Sustainable cleanings - water workings

17th of November 2016
Sustainable cleanings - water workings

Water is a valuable commodity and an increasing number of sustainable cleaning companies are coming up with solutions that help to reduce its use. ECJ asks manufacturers about their latest – and smartest - water-saving products.

Sustainable companies are working towards achieving a vast number of admirable goals. They aim to reduce emissions while also conserving energy: they strive to minimise environmental impact while reducing waste production. And they also make every effort to improve the health and safety of their staff.

Reducing the use of chemical cleaning products has been another goal of many manufacturers, with an increasing number of processes relying on water alone. But as supplies of this precious natural resource continue to dwindle, manufacturers are having to come up with new processes that limit water use as well.

Water is one of the world’s most valuable resources according to Kärcher’s head of sustainability management Andreas Mayer. “Because of increasing global water scarcity it is important to include water in any sustainable cleaning system,” he said. The company manufactures high-pressure washers, scrubber dryers, steam vacuum cleaners and concentrated chemicals that are all claimed to help produce water savings.

“Using a high-pressure cleaner already achieves water savings of almost 80 per cent compared with a traditional hose because the impact pressure substantially loosens the dirt,” said Mayer. “The Servo Control function of our high-pressure cleaners also enables the operator to precisely reduce the amount of water used during the cleaning application. And all Kärcher high-pressure units can be equipped with an additional water inlet filter that enables dirty water or rainwater from cisterns or tanks to be used.”

The company’s scrubber dryers feature an Intelligent Key that enables the facilities manager to predetermine settings including the amount of water to be used. “Another sustainable function is our Eco Efficiency mode which can be used for maintenance cleaning,” said Mayer. “This reduces power and water consumption by more than 50 per cent.”

He believes that increasing global water scarcity will make water reduction essential for years to come. “On a global scale, the number of regions where drinking water is becoming scarce is increasing and the efficient use of drinking water will become one of the main challenges to mankind,” he said.

Water scarcity already affects every continent and industry according to Sealed Air Diversey Care global marketing director Lars Bo Madsen. “Around 1.2 billion people - almost a fifth of the world’s population - currently live in areas of physical scarcity while 500 million more are approaching this situation,” he said. “The cleaning industry will have to constantly re-imagine its way of working with water resources.”

Diversey Care has committed itself to reducing its overall water intensity by 25 per cent by 2020. “The use of water will be thoroughly evaluated with every innovation we bring to market,” said Madsen.

Diversey products and solutions said to reduce water use include the Taski Intellibot automated scrubber dryer; the Intellidish cloud-based monitoring system and the new Pro series of concentrated chemicals.

The Taski Intellibot scrubber dryer uses a recycling system that is claimed to reduce the use of water and chemicals by 85 per cent compared with conventional machines. “It can clean continually for up to three-and-a-half hours with 53 litres which provides a very high operational efficiency and sustainability,” said Madsen.

The Intellidish system is part of the company’s Internet of Clean platform which connects machines, dispensers, sensors, beacons and other smart devices. “This monitors dishwashers in commercial kitchens and gives real-time updates on water usage to ensure hygiene compliance and reduce waste,” he said. “We have seen customers reduce their water usage by 100 per cent because they are given full transparency over the dishwasher process and can manage peak hours and water resources much more effectively.”

Reduce environmental impact

The company’s Pro Series includes Smart Mix Pro, a dilution control alternative to ready-to-use spray bottles; and Snap´N Dose Pro which comprises portion-packed trays for easy distribution. “Both systems are designed to reduce transport, energy and water which significantly reduces the environmental impact of cleaning,” said Madsen.

Bio Productions – manufacturer of biological cleaning products - claims its urinal Bio Blocks can also lead to significant water savings. “An average urinal is flushed 36 times a day which is a colossal 13,140 flushes a year,” says managing director Angela Gill. “When using Bio Blocks you can reduce this flush frequency to four times a day or less which results in savings of around 100,000 litres of water a year for every urinal.”

In fact reducing the number of flushes to three times a day can actually increase the effectiveness of the products, according to Gill. “Not only does it save more water, it also allows the enzymes more time to work on the uric acid which helps to keep the pipes clear,” she said.  “Too much flushing washes the goodness away.”

TG Hylift manages its water consumption by using the same supply for cleaning and powering its equipment. The company’s Hycleaner system is designed for use on façades, roofs and solar panels.
“The brush rotation of our cleaning machines is generated by a water motor, and the same water is used for drive as well as for cleaning,” said managing director Andreas Grochowiak. “The Hycleaner series can be operated using tap water or rainwater as well as osmosis water and demineralised water.”

Multiple-use systems

He believes this dual use of water will evolve into multiple-use systems in the future. “Reductions in water use will become increasingly important in years to come and even today there is an ongoing debate on how to realise water reductions in some regions,” he said. “However, I believe the most important element in any sustainable cleaning system is to provide chemical-free cleaning in order to avoid extensive recycling procedures.”

Nilfisk’s group floor care product manager Anders Sandstrom believes that reductions in water use need to be achieved across the board. “Clean drinking water is critical in the world today and cleaning water is expensive and difficult to access,” he said. “This is why the governments of some countries offer financial help when customers buy a cleaning machine that has a water-saving label.”

All Nilfisk machines are designed to reduce water use, according to Sandstrom. “We are trying to improve this all the time,” he said. “Our latest launches - the walk-behind SC500, ride-on SC2000 and ride-on SC6000 – incorporate a SmartFlow system whereby the solution flow is controlled by speed. This helps to reduce the use of water and detergent by up to 50 per cent.”

The company also incorporates a recycling system in some larger machines. This enables the operator to reuse the top section of the water in the recovery tank to allow for an extended scrub time.

Fimap considers it to be the company’s duty to find solutions that optimise the way in which water is used. “Water is essential for cleaning floors and we are always looking at systems that save water and that avoid wasting it,” says product manager Antonio Incrocci.

Fimap has developed a series of water-saving technologies in its scrubbing machines. These include the FSS - Fimap Solution Saver – which allows water and detergent to be distributed separately. “In this way the operator can choose the ratio of water and detergent according on the type of dirt,” said Incrocci.

The company also offers the FWF system - Fimap Water Flow – which is said to provide a uniform distribution of cleaning solution on brushes even with reduced flow rates. “This means cleaning can be carried out all along the working width with only one pass,” he said. And the company’s Eco Mode uses a working configuration that automatically reduces water and detergent flow. “Which is the ideal setting for maintenance cleaning,” said Incrocci. “All these technologies enable the customer to reduce their water and chemical use by up to 50 per cent.”

The company also offers the Fimap Long Range system, a water recycling technology that reduces consumption by up to 66 per cent. “FLR makes used water available again after the cleaning process, making it possible to clean more square metres of floor space with the same amount of water and detergent,” said Incrocci.

No performance compromise

Ecolab’s European marketing communications manager Alex Crampton says his company is always looking for ways to reduce, reuse or eliminate the use of water without compromising product performance. For example, he claims the company’s Mobilette Vario Flexx cleaning trolley can reduce water and detergent use by up to 50 per cent by means of an impregnated cloths and mops system.

“We also offer the Aquanomic Laundry programme which has the potential to reduce wash steps, water usage and temperature and results in water and energy savings of up to 40 per cent,” he said.
The company is striving to reduce water use on a wider scale through data collection and internet insights. Nalco Water - the main water operation within Ecolab - is creating ways to leverage insights from data collected from thousands of connected systems. “This allows us to more effectively monitor and control water use throughout our industrial processes on a global scale,” said Crampton.

“As demand for water-saving solutions increases around the world, Ecolab is responding with solutions that have the power to meet that demand and scale.”

According to Crampton, Ecolab helped customers conserve more than 142 billion gallons of water in 2015 through its water management systems. “This represents water conservation equaling the annual drinking needs of more than a billion people,” he said.

He believes that water conservation will remain a key issue for years to come. “Water scarcity is becoming more than a hypothetical risk to companies — it is a constraint to growth,” he said.  “Yet water continues to be significantly undervalued in much of the world, making it hard for companies to make the business case to invest in solutions that reduce these risks.”

Nilfisk’s Anders Sandstrom believes systems that reuse water will be one of the next big things in sustainable cleaning. “However at Nilfisk we also focus on energy savings and the use of recyclable materials,” he adds. “We feel that to do more with less is just as important as reducing water use.”

Like other manufacturers, Diversey’s Lars Bo Madsen feels that the issue of water conservation will be an ongoing one. However, he agrees with Sandstrom it is only part of the bigger picture.
“Any measures to reduce environmental impact should take a more holistic view,” he said.

“Improvements in energy, water, waste, compliance, health, labour, and liability are also important. It is not our company’s philosophy to single out one or other of these sustainable goals but to drive improvements in all areas.”

And Fimap’s Antonio Incrocci concurs. “Solutions that optimise water use are only one part of any successful sustainability policy,” he said. “Green cleaning solutions are not only about water: they should be based on the optimisation of all resources including detergent, power and energy.”


Related Articles

Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited