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Survey highlights sustainability priorities8th of June 2011
A survey into the sustainability priorities of the UK's cleaning industry carried out by the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) has found that environmental issues are seen as being by far the most important component of sustainability.
Within that, recycling and waste, chemical use and energy are the most important topics - according to those who participated in the online research in March. Wages, training and skills, and health and safety were cited as being the most important social issues. In terms of profitability, client relationships, supply of additional services and pricing are top priorities.
Respondents showed a clear preference for environmental issues when asked about their sustainability priorities. 57 per cent said that the environment was the most important issue, with one third saying that business profitability was the most important and less than 10 per cent seeing social issues as being the most important. This is startling given that people issues are so important to the cleaning sector - with staff accounting for around 75 per cent of costs and the concern about wage levels and employment practices in the industry.
However CSSA says this apparently low awareness of social issues may be partly due to the fact environmentalism has become synonymous with sustainability. And many cleaning successful cleaning businesses may see managing large numbers of people as simply being part of good management rather than including it in their sustainability policies.
Given that just 45 people took part in the survey, its findings could be said to be not entirely representative of the sector. Just over half of the respondents were providers of cleaning services, while the rest were product suppliers. Nearly three quarters came from the UK, with nearly one quarter coming from outside the EU and less than five per cent from other EU countries.
CSSA says it will use the research results to guide its future sustainability work in the UK.