Best floor pads for the planet

7th of June 2019
Best floor pads for the planet

Cleaning companies are seeking to make all aspects of their business more sustainable and that encompasses the pads they use on their floor cleaning machines. So what developments have floor pad manufacturers made in order to make their pads more environmentally conscious. What exactly constitutes a ‘sustainable’ floor pad? Derik Landman and Herma Oosterveld of Wecovi write exclusively for ECJ.

The floor pad market can be described as a challenging one because there are so many developments taking place. Floor pads are evolving all the time and so do the machines where pads are being used. On the floor pad market you also have the ongoing demand for efficiency and technical opportunities to use various material for specific cleaning tasks.

On the floor pad market but also on the cleaning market in general you also see the increasing demand for sustainable cleaning solutions. Floor pad suppliers need to adapt to all these developments on the market.

When defining sustainability on the floor pads market there are two angles. First of all it has to do with the cleaning with the floor pad itself and how sustainable this process is.  What you see is that in the last decade diamond pads for example have become very popular. Diamond pads are ideal to use with only water. This results in a reduction of chemicals which is of course a more environmentally friendly way of cleaning. On the other hand  the sustainability of the floor pad itself it an important angle. How sustainable is the material of the pad?

On the market you see manufacturers that are producing pads made out of 100 per cent recycled materials, manufacturers that produce pads partly made out of recycled material and manufacturers that make pads using no recycled materials. The challenge for all producers in this is the end of life cycle solution.

If we are taking a look at how sustainable the pad market was 15 years ago, we clearly could see differences. At that time there was always the need for a cleaning chemical. Also the effectiveness of floor pads was not as high as it is nowadays because back then the cleaners had to perform an extra pass to get the right level of cleanliness - resulting in a higher usage of materials.

Nowadays the floor pad market is much more sustainable. The end of life cycle problem is something all manufacturers are facing. On the market, cleaners have the option to choose a sustainable product in the different categories of cleaning materials because the awareness about the importance of sustainability on the cleaning market is high. Cleaners could make the choice to use a cleaning chemical or opt for a product that is certified when looking for a product that is not only of high quality but also sustainable.

Key directions for innovation

The importance of sustainability on the floor market is unmistakable. Sustainability is one of the key directions for innovation for manufacturers of floor pads. Pad customers are more and more demanding for sustainable solutions. Sustainability is a theme which has to do with how effective, how safe and how easy to use a product is for cleaners. The treatment of marble floors is a nice example to demonstrate this.

Nowadays you can clean these types of floors by using floor pads that only need the addition of water. Before, cleaners had no other option then to use a crystallisation pad with a crystallisation chemical. The second step was then to take another pad to create gloss. A process that was far more difficult because cleaners had a greater chance of making mistakes. The new method is much more easy to use.

Another example of development in this is floor stripping. That used to be done with a black pad and stripper - also quite complicated. Now we have chemical free stripping pads as either standard pads or diamond pads. The methods have changed. They have become more sustainable and more efficient because the job is done much more quickly and with a lower chance of making mistakes.

Process changes

The manufacturing process for floor pads has also changed. Not only are fibres being used in the pads now being made out of recycled fibres so that plastic bottles are no longer simply emptied and thrown away in landfills, also more friendly resins are being used. This is a benefit for the production process of floor pads. It is less harmful when a floor pad is manufactured now.

The durability of the pad is also an important aspect in terms of sustainability. How many square metres can be cleaned with a floor pad? Recent developments show that floor pads in general are designed to have a longer life span. For manufacturers on the market this is always a challenge in selling floor pads to cleaning companies. Once cleaning companies select one brand or another they do not only take into account the price levels of the products but of course the usage and life span are also very important. Cleaning companies can make a difference by being more aware.

After the floor pads are being used the material ends up in waste and landfills. Fortunately, recent developments in floor pads are to be found in the fact that the pads biodegrade much more quickly in an active landfill then they did in the past.

What we have seen in recent developments is that different types of  more sustainable pads are being used. For example diamond pads, melamine pads and brush pads. These are the innovations of the last decade that can be used with only water.

It is challenging for floor pad manufacturers that they should be aware of all the current developments on the market and that they have to make their pads more environmentally conscious. Machines for example are also drivers for floor pad innovation. Currently there are three types of developments.

Oscillating floor machines are becoming more and more popular. Not only to clean in corners but also in general use. These types of machines require rectangular pads. A second development is compact cleaning machines. For these machines small scrub pads are required. The third development is autonomous robotic machines that can clean for many hours so result in high services. These new machines require pads that are able to clean for a number of hours so they need to be able to absorb a great deal of dirt and still be effective.

Many pads available

The CSR policies of cleaning companies are more extensive than before. Cleaning companies are required and stimulated to use environmental friendly methods and materials. Luckily for them there is a broad range of floor pads available that are certified. This allows cleaning companies to make use of these certifications to emphasise the fact that they are working in a sustainable way.

Cleaning companies find it important to care about the environment but of course they prefer to work with materials that are easy to use and have the best results. Cost saving methods are always welcome. It is therefore important for manufacturers of floor pads to find a good balance
in offering a high quality but environmentally friendly product at a good reasonable price.

Choosing the best method of cleaning  depends on different aspects such as the type of floor, the size of the floor and the building. Online tools from manufacturers might be a good help in this regard, such as floor pad apps. Fortunately there are many different floor pads and methods that cleaning companies can choose. By innovating the cleaning method, cleaning companies can save time, high standards can be reached and the level of sustainability will be high.


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