Interesting news from Norway recently as the government committed to tackling rogue operations in its cleaning sector, and improving conditions for cleaning operatives. It’s fantastic to see policymakers take this key issue very seriously – so-called ‘cowboy’ cleaning outfits give everyone a bad name, and their practices can even involve the enslavement of some cleaners unlucky enough to fall victim.
Central to the Norwegian government’s plan is a proposal that cleaning contractors submit evidence that they have been approved every three years, as well as the introduction of an independent inspector.
The cleaning supply chain
Cleaning operatives are very much on the front line of our industry, but reading this story, I couldn’t help thinking about the checks and balances that are in place further up the supply chain to ensure quality and consistency.
Even the most responsible, environmentally-conscious janitorial company or cleaning contractor could be tripped up by a poor-quality supplier providing products that simply don’t live up to the claims they make. This can present health and safety, and quality challenges for the cleaning and janitorial teams and for the facilities they service.
Our corner of the industry is awash with suppliers offering a wide range bin liners, sanitary bags and other hygiene and sanitary waste liners. Some offer products that are deliberately sold underweight, undersize, and even undercount, so buyers do not get the quantity that they thought they had bought, while others are such poor quality that they will burst, risking hygiene and health and safety.
So how can buyers in the janitorial and cleaning industry be sure that the products they are investing in perform to a high standard?
- Check for minimum net box weights, which should be clearly marked on the outer carton.
- Look out for international, independently audited quality standards, including EN standards and ISO quality management principles. All our products are certified to internationally-recognised ISO and EN standards – for instance our quality management system is certified ISO 9001:2015.
- Watch out for country-specific quality labels – in the UK, only companies that have been independently assessed can use the Cleaning and Hygiene Suppliers Association’s (CHSA) registered Manufacturing Standard Accreditation Scheme logo.
- Some companies go above and beyond. Our ensa® refuse sacks are sold alongside our CHSA approved products, providing professionals in the cleaning and janitorial sector and the waste management industry with greater flexibility, both in performance and cost. ensa® products undergo similar testing procedures to the CHSA approved range, with the added benefit that they are also subjected to opacity and leak tests. They are already the preferred quality standard of some local councils.
- Beware of greenwashing – if a product claims environmentally-friendly credentials it must be able to back this up with independent certification. Our Ecopond® biodegradable sack range, for instance, is fully accredited to meet the stringent composting standard EN13432, with Din-Certco and OK Compost certification.
- For sanitary products, check the credentials of antimicrobial liners, such as sanitary bags. Companies claiming their bactericides and fungicidal formulas provide protection against harmful bacteria must be able to back this up. A key quality indicator is whether the formulas are added during the film extrusion process. Cromwell Polythene uses highly reputable bactericides and fungicides active ingredient brands including Biomaster®.(At Cromwell, every batch of Sansafe® liners is tested, confirming the correct dosage of active ingredient to ensure the efficacy of the product in use).
There is no doubt that the janitorial and cleaning industry demands competitively priced products, but this should not lead to sacrificing any quality or performance. Buyers should take a leaf out of the Norwegian government’s book and quiz their suppliers on their quality and performance standards – it’s time this industry kicked out the cowboys across the supply chain.