Skills make for a sustainable future

7th of February 2024 Article by Lynn Webster
Skills make for a sustainable future

In the UK, Lynn Webster reports from an event focusing on business responsibilities in key areas.

With so much media traffic and business responsibilities around the economy, climate change and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) specifically, these were the theme of a Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA) members event.

We were fortunate to have some eminent speakers; firstly on the UK Economy, including  consideration of the UK’s unique circumstances; Brexit (of course) putting the brakes on investment; having five Prime Ministers in the last seven years with such political instability leading to the destruction of investment initiatives; a permanent shortage of labour resources exacerbated by an aging population retiring early (especially post pandemic); individuals unable to work whilst awaiting treatment; chronic underinvestment and an overall diminishing brand value.

Then Rob Holdway, an environmental consultant and MD of Giraffe Innovation, focused on sustainability and the impact this has, has had and will have on the cleaning industry. Consideration was given to not what this means to so many different people but the benefits of what it does; what it can bring in terms of technology, cultural, social and ethical aspects.

Holdway provided a useful summary of where the cleaning industry may be, with his research highlighting where many organisations are undertaking positive initiatives including carbon footprint commitments, plans and reports - although perhaps these can lack details and transparency of supporting data.

Food for thought continued with details of the rising sea levels; shocking data about the microplastics in the ecosystem (10,000 per litre at the Arctic, 14 million tonnes accumulated on the ocean floor with an increase of 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes each year) with consideration
of the impact of deforestation and eutrophication.

Socially there are some great statements - some valuable commentary on aspects of fair pay, charity engagement and training (but are they clearly making an impact?); engaging with the practicalities of conservation and management of resources, staff wellbeing and keeping employees safe.

Issues related to air quality was an uppermost topic. Around 90 per cent of city dwellers in Europe are exposed to pollution at concentrations higher than that deemed harmful to health. Fine particulate matter in air has been estimated to reduce the life expectancy in the EU. 

Photochemical ‘smog’ is caused by the emissions of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic substances that generate round level ozone in the presence of sunlight. Other air pollutants include dust particles and sulphur dioxide. Smog and air pollution subsequently increase incidents of asthma and other respiratory and cardiovascular related health conditions.

What does all this mean to our cleaning sector leadership and the skills in place for a sustainable future?

We each do what we do. We do what we can for the benefit and sustainable efficiency of our business. This aligned to our purpose, reviewing the evidence and with each of our own idiosyncrasies provide a coherent strategy for the future.

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  • ISSA Interclean
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