French specialist cleaners turn green

13th of December 2016
French specialist cleaners turn green

French correspondent Christian Bouzols takes a look at specialist areas of cleaning using ‘green’ methods.

Whether it involves the maintenance of solar panels, cleaning of large expanses of glass on buildings, industrial cleaning of sanitised or high risk areas such as clean rooms, research laboratories or operating theatres, specialist cleaning is a distinct discipline. It requires highly technical interventions, carried out by specific service providers, who are increasingly making use of ‘green’ techniques.

Thus the cleaning of very large glass surfaces, which is usually carried out with a squeegee and a wetting device, can also be performed with filtered water and a telescopic wand several metres in length.

There is also bio-cleaning, whose purpose is to decontaminate high risk areas in hospitals and other health institutions. The technique consists of breaking the bio-film formed by surface bacteria by killing the micro-organisms that spread across surfaces. It is used in premises where people are exposed to bacteria and viruses, such as operating theatres and high intensity care wards. Other examples are sports halls whose maintenance depends not only on the floor covering, but also on the type of sporting activity.

According to the French cleaning federation FEP, “specialist cleaning has since 2012 become a growth activity for cleaning contractors at a time when they’ve been hit by the crisis”. Specialist cleaners in a position to take on bio-cleaning contracts or to respond to the increased hygiene requirements of some sectors are those that have benefitted the most.

In order to respond to the quality, credibility and skill requirements of clients, the cleaning sector has put in place qualification procedures based on the implementation of specific referential rules. Various labelling systems have therefore been implemented. The main ones are Qualipropre, ecolabels and NF Environnement. Qualipropre is a label awarded to companies that respect given specifications of a qualitative nature. The areas where their performance is assessed are, among others, process quality, staff training and operator experience.

Ecolabels are issued by the French standards institution to cleaning companies that abide by an environmentally sound approach in respect of work processes and products used. NF Environnement is the French equivalent of the European Ecolabel. This standard covers the use of cleaning products whose environmental impacts are minimal, or much reduced compared to those of traditional products.

In many cases, the products are formulated by the cleaning company itself. The company is therefore in a position to give clients details on the products to be used on their premises should these client have set environmental requirements.

A cleaning company that obtains a certification of this kind obviously has a comparative advantage but the certification doesn’t guarantee the quality of its services. It means the company is compliant with internally accepted standards relating to procedures. Some cleaning companies also make use of Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE) sites, HQE being a French label for green buildings, in order to attract the owners of these buildings that wish to have them maintained according to set procedures.


Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited