Changing habits for a green future

26th of October 2023 Article by Lotte Printz
Changing habits for a green future

Cleaning operatives are training for a greener future in a Danish municipality, writes Lotte Printz.

The white and green electric vehicles visible in roads around the country proclaim that “they care” at ABENA. For the environment among other things - and people. And now this southern Denmark based company plays a key part in the municipality of Tønder’s transition to a greener future.

110 cleaning operatives working for the municipality have taken part in cleaning courses at the ABENA Academy, set up three years ago. To develop new habits and methods in cleaning routines and to make sure that cleaning in Tønder becomes more environmentally friendly. Among other things, focus has been on dosage and minimising use of water and over-consumption in general.

The green transition goes hand in hand with better working conditions for the staff, which is also of the utmost importance to the management. Cleaning products, tools and trolleys have been replaced with ECO-certified models and some that cater for the needs of the cleaning staff. Like Anja Hansen who has cleaned at the town hall for seven years and was part of a test team.

Speaking to the Danish cleaning industry magazine, Rent i Danmark, she says her workday has become much easier with improved trolleys, among other things. The height has been lowered to match the height of the cleaners, the trolley has a handle at each end to make it easier to manoeuvre and is so capacious that it allows her to carry most of the tools and products needed for a ‘round’ so she walks considerably less at work than she used to. Made of 90 per cent recycled plastics, the trolleys also send the ‘right’ signals in the green transition.

Like most other municipalities in this country, Tønder is already DK2020 certified and has drawn up what is called a Climate Action Planning Framework to pursue efforts to reach the Paris Agreement goals. Now Tønder is also heading for, and expects fairly soon to be approved for, The Nordic Swan Ecolabel. And to partner with ABENA in its endeavours is a great advantage says head of cleaning at the municipality of Tønder, Hans Christian Kjeldsen, to Rent i Danmark.

“To be approved for the Swan Ecolabel requires a huge amount of documentation and they can provide the statistics required and document where we were and where we’re heading.”

But the working environment and the future of the cleaning staff are also pivotal. “The development of new methods, chemistry and machinery is accelerating in the cleaning industry. So even with a wealth of experience, acquiring new knowledge is required continually. But with a strong focus on good habits that make people last longer in this job, it’s also important that staff get a chance to acquire new qualifications and routines,” Kjeldsen adds.

A third focus of the endeavours to secure a more sustainable future for the cleaning staff also includes ‘visual and trust-based cleaning’ giving the cleaning operatives a say in their working day. Instead of putting labels on the doors telling them to clean this or that, the cleaning operatives make their own assessments as to the need for cleaning. Helped along by the knowledge and qualifications gained in training and close dialogue with the people they meet daily.

This as well as being in charge of their working day give them their sense of professional pride back and a higher degree of job satisfaction, they believe in Tønder.

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