The British Cleaning Council and members write monthly columns for both Cleaning and Maintenance and Tomorrow’s Cleaning magazines. You can read recent columns below.
Let’s help Clean Start to showcase our industry
By Jim Melvin, British Cleaning Council (BCC) Chairman and Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) Director (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in September)
BCC member the CSSA has launched an exciting initiative which is flying the flag for the cleaning, hygiene and waste industry.
Called Clean Start, the new scheme will inform and educate people working outside the industry about how interesting and fulfilling working within our sector can be and the diverse vocations, jobs and roles that are available.
The aim is to encourage people from all walks of life, whether they are a school or college leaver, a graduate or someone simply looking for a career change, to reimagine their future and career as a professional within our important and dynamic sector.
As our research report published in May showed, the cleaning, hygiene and waste industry is a huge sector, encompassing an incredible range of occupations.
The sector is worth £54.5 billion and employs 1.47 million people in occupations including property managers, waste disposal and environmental services, gardeners and landscape gardeners, pest control officers, caretakers, housekeepers, window-cleaners, domestic, commercial, contract and industrial cleaning with many also involved in the manufacture of products for the sector.
Businesses in our sector are reflecting the global rise of innovation and technology by adopting AI, automation and software developments – you only have to think about the surge in purchases within cleaning and hygiene of robotics and cobotics before and throughout the pandemic.
Our sector also has an important role to play in promoting sustainability, with many businesses focusing on more environmentally-friendly goods, products and processes.
The cleaning industry has always been about making people’s lives cleaner, safer and healthier and creating a good environment for people to work and live in.
However, over the past 18 months, as we are all too aware, the industry has also played a vital role in the fight against Covid-19 and it is clear that there will almost certainly be a heightened demand for cleaning and hygiene services for years to come.
Yet, irrespective of all this, there remains some outside the sector who still perceive the industry to be low-skilled or even ‘exempt of skill’, as our teams complete their job when, in fact, our sector is incredibly exciting and full of innovation.
The Clean Start campaign is helping change these perceptions by showcasing the many exciting professional career paths available as well as the variety of businesses and operations within the sector.
The CSSA has created a dedicated page on its website at https://www.cssa-uk.co.uk/clean-start which will feature a range of free, downloadable case studies.
One case study already compiled focuses on Mike McKiernan, a Senior Group Buyer for Jangro, who completed a degree in palaeobiology and evolution and now works in purchasing.
Mike says he loves the breadth and variety of what’s on offer in the cleaning, hygiene and waste industry. He works with each of Jangro’s 46 members, meaning one minute he can be focusing on the education sector and the next, he’s involved with catering.
Mitch Holmquest features in another case study, describing how he went from a warehouse operative to becoming a Robotics Demo Specialist with ICE, at the forefront of the cutting-edge technology which is transforming our industry.
There are a number of other fascinating case studies also on the website and I’d definitely recommend reading them.
The CSSA is looking for businesses and individuals within the cleaning industry, whether they are CSSA members or not, to support Clean Start.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information if you think your business, career path and role might make a good case study.
And please promote #CSSACleanStart on social media and help spread the word about this fantastic industry of ours.
Let’s act to make the world fit for future generations
By Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy (This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in September)
It is no exaggeration to say that the world has changed beyond all recognition in the past 18 months.
Keep Britain Tidy has been on hand to chart some of the changes, both good and bad, map the growing challenge to the environment on our doorstep and campaign for the improvements that our evidence-based approach leads us to conclude will reverse climate and community harm.
Perhaps the most positive change to come out of the fact that millions of people were confined to their local area is that more of us are valuing and caring about our parks and green spaces, recognising them as lockdown lifelines.
Keep Britain Tidy’s research carried out this year shows that more than 90% of people think their parks and green spaces are important to their community and 95% agree that they need to be protected.
At the same time, we have seen our litter-picking community grow, with the number of people identifying themselves as Litter Heroes more than doubling to almost 5,000. Our volunteers also clocked up a million miles of litter-picking for this year’s Great British Spring Clean.
While this is great news, these things alone will not solve a problem that costs the best part of £1 billion a year to clean up and damages the environment even more than it costs communities.
We have all seen images of litter-strewn parks and beaches that have, sadly, been a feature of the past year or so. As life returns to ‘normal’ it is imperative that we not only regain ground – we must do better. If we are to tackle the pollution caused by litter, we need action from government now.
This is why Keep Britain Tidy has campaigned for and will continue to be at the forefront of calls for the changes that we know will make a difference.
A comprehensive, ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme (DRS) for plastic, glass and aluminium drinks containers of all sizes will, we know, have a significant impact on litter as well as massively increasing recycling. Seventy-five per cent of litter by volume is made up of drinks cans and bottles, so creating value for these containers will see them disappear off our streets and become an essential resource that will be captured for recycling.
We know this works. Countries that have a comprehensive ‘all-in’ DRS see up to 95% of cans and bottles recycled – in this country it is currently around 50%.
We also need an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme sooner rather than later. Currently those who create the packaging that results in so much waste, causes environmental devastation and costs local authorities so much to deal with, both through kerbside collections and street cleaning, bear none of the cost for cleaning up post-consumption waste.
This must change and that change should have two significant benefits – encourage innovation to reduce the amount of polluting packaging, and create the funding needed to tackle littering behaviours at a national level for the long term.
But any EPR scheme should not just look at packaging. The most littered item, by number, is the cigarette butt, with millions of them tossed on the ground every day. This is why Keep Britain Tidy will continue to put pressure on government to ensure that the tobacco manufacturers pick up their share of the bill for dealing with smoking-related litter as part of EPR.
We believe that a well-designed ‘all-in’ DRS and a comprehensive EPR scheme are the two crucial policy changes that we need to see if we are to do better when it comes to creating a cleaner environment.
Our challenge, as a leading environmental charity, is to do our part to ensure lessons are learnt, that we help everyone clean up their act and together we act to make the world fit for future generations.