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.
We will not stop trying to deliver our message to Government
By Jim Melvin, Chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC) (This article was first published in Tomorrow’s Cleaning in March)
It is now more than a year since the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Cleaning and Hygiene Industry was formally inaugurated but progress in some areas has been slower than we would have liked. That is not surprising but disappointing
We at the British Cleaning Council (BCC) pushed for an APPG for the sector and we were delighted when it was established in February last year with strong support from many MPs.
It was important for a sector as big as cleaning and hygiene to have representation at the highest levels and it seemed like a means to help us lobby Government to make rapid progress on key industry issues such as:
· recognition of the role of cleaning and hygiene operatives and personnel as being an essential and key occupation, with a vital and skilled role in the fight against Covid-19 and all other forms of contagion, and in restoring the confidence of the nation in returning to work and normality
· promotion of the real Living Wage on the basis that a fair day’s work merits a fair day’s pay and is recognition of training and skills achieved
· advocacy of best practice in mental health and mental health awareness as part of employee care and well-being.
In addition, since late last year, we have been seeking to highlight the severe staff shortages which have hit the industry and for which we urgently need Government help.
I have written in previous columns about how the staff shortages affecting the sector, at a time when cases are still high, could potentially put the health of members of the public at risk and threaten the nation’s fight about the pandemic.
I have also highlighted how cleaning staff in healthcare, hospitality and other parts of the sector are at risk of burnout because of increased workloads due to pandemic protocols and staff shortages.
Whilst we are delighted with the progress on an accredited training programme and apprenticeship for the sector, for which draft proposals were published in January, the Government has not been receptive when it comes to the other issues.
For example, we have tried to open a dialogue with both the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy but, at the time of writing, awaited dates promised in January.
We recently had a Zoom call with a number of APPG MPs but were disappointed with the content and the lack of passion shown.
Therefore, I recently wrote to BCC members and industry partners to update them and reflect some of the frustration we have been feeling.
We also understand that part of the problem has been the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, with Government being pre-occupied with the pandemic with the effect of it being much harder to meet Government officials, political advisers and ministers face to face, which is a key aspect of lobbying work.
So what now?
We are still determined to achieve our key strategic objectives and ensure that Government listens to the industry, so we are rethinking our approach and hoping to work together with members and the industry as a whole on lobbying, to ensure the sector’s voice is heard. That requires a universal approach and may take longer as a result.
Hopefully now the Government is returning to some kind of normality. As pandemic restrictions ease, there is hope that we can finally hold the face-to-face meetings that we’ve been unable to before now.
We are reaching out to APPG chairs to ask to meet face to face and hope to discuss updating and refocusing the APPG’s key aims with them.
A Roadmap to Sustainability
(This article was first published in Cleaning and Maintenance in March)
Climate change is a huge threat to our planet. Aware of our responsibility to contribute, we in the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) and the Cleaning Support Services Association (CSSA) are developing a Roadmap to Sustainability. In this article Lorcan Mekitarian, Chair of the CHSA, explains the association’s approach.
Environmental sustainability is complex. There is no clear and simple measure to show which product or process is more or less sustainable than any other. Opting for products or packaging containing recycled material ahead of virgin might feel obvious, but what if it’s not fit for purpose. What if it involves more transport miles? What if the production process consumes more resources? Availability of recycled material of the right quality is becoming an issue.
The pressure of commercial reality adds to this complexity. The constant downward pressure on prices means manufacturing and selling cleaning and hygiene products is highly competitive. In this environment, every innovation, whether a product, packaging solution or process, has to deliver tangible business benefits and deliver them quickly.
Experts from within our members have come together with the aim of helping CHSA members move a more sustainable future. They identified five pillars to sustainability in our sector: product, packaging, transportation, social value and ethics, and the corporate approach to emissions waste and water.
Pillar 1, product, relates to product as it is received, used and disposed of by the end user. Pillar 2, packaging, relates to all the packaging of a product, throughout the supply chain. This includes manufacturers’ packaging as well as that used by distributors as they re-pack the product for its last few miles. Pillar 3, transportation, covers the complete supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials to the delivery to the end user. Pillar 4 covers social values. It includes mental wellbeing, personal development, community involvement and the overall ethical approach of the business. Pillar 5 covers waste, emissions and water.
Our members are already working hard to improve the sustainability of their products, not surprising as this is their area of expertise. There is more uncertainty when it comes to the other four pillars. To progress we asked members to name their top three challenges. The themes that emerged include balancing cost, the availability of alternative options, a resistance to change and how to measure and report on sustainable initiatives.
Cost is particularly significant. Adopting the sustainable option often requires a big initial investment and fostering bio-diversity, for example, delivers only an intangible commercial benefit. This matters in a market where there is a constant downward pressure on price. The absence of suitable, sustainable alternatives was raised again and again in relation to all the pillars. For example, virgin materials may be the only packaging option that keeps the product safe, untainted and in good condition. Throughout the supply chain there is a resistance to change. For example, the just-in-time approach embedded in the UK means end users often want a next day service. It means they are resistant to ordering in larger volumes to reduce the number of deliveries. Finally, measuring and reporting on the effectiveness of sustainable initiatives is complex. When it is so difficult to clearly establish the benefit of any one initiative, deciding if, where and how much to invest is challenging.
Our Roadmap to Sustainability addresses these themes. Providing a practical way forward, it includes activities designed to help industry businesses and organisations move towards a more environmentally sustainable future. The programme will kick off with a webinar designed to provide a practical overview of the ways in which our members can respond to the challenge presented by sustainability.
Sustainability is a big and complex challenge facing our industry. There is no quick and easy solution. Our Roadmap to Sustainability is a practical approach that will give our members and the wider industry the information and insights they need to move towards a sustainable future.