Beware unscrupulous providers capitalising on soaring inflation

“Buyers of cleaning and hygiene products need to beware providers offering low-cost solutions,” explained Lorcan Mekitarian, chair of the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA). “The rise in inflation means anyone offering low cost cleaning and hygiene products is probably cutting important corners.”

“Our advice to facilities managers is specify the CHSA Accreditation Scheme mark. It’s the only way to guarantee quality and product specification. Our Standards, Your Guarantee.”

After years of remarkably low inflation, it started to soar earlier this year and remains high. There are two factors at the heart of the rise. Economies opening up after the pandemic means demand for raw materials is high, driving up the cost. In tandem the cost of energy has soared in the wake of the war in Ukraine. While this has also impacted the cost of raw materials, it has had a huge impact on the operations of manufacturers and distributors of cleaning and hygiene products. The resulting upward pressure on the price of end products is unstoppable. Anyone resisting this pressure and continuing to offer low prices is likely to be compromising on product quality and quantity.

Maintaining standards is at the heart of everything the CHSA does. In 1997 the CHSA launched its first accreditation scheme for manufacturers of soft tissue products.

Today it has six accreditation schemes. They are for manufacturers of paper-based and woven products, plastic-based products, cotton-based products, and cleaning chemicals, for general manufacturers and for distributors of cleaning and hygiene products.

The integrity of the schemes matters. It’s why in 2021 the CHSA’s independent inspector conducted 143 audits, checking more than 3,800 individual products. He found exceptional levels of conformance.

Members of the accreditation scheme for paper-based and woven products achieved 92% label compliance, meaning the dimensions and count of every product and other required information is as indicated on the label. Of the 1,260 individual products audited 96% complied, excluding minor infringements.

The inspector conducted 40 audits of plastic-based products. 1,820 individual items were tested, and 672 labels checked. Overall label compliance was 93% and 92% of all products tested met the requirements of the Scheme, guaranteeing they are fit for purpose.

Members of the accreditation scheme for manufacturers of cotton-based products achieved 97% compliance on the labels checked and 96% on the 720 products tested.

The 17 members of the accreditation Scheme for manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene chemicals were reviewed by the inspector and their status confirmed.

Every distributor member of the CHSA was also audited against their commitment to buy products from a CHSA accredited manufacturer and that product from other manufacturers conformed to the requirements of the relevant accreditation scheme. They are audited accordingly.

As well as the auditing process, the CHSA conducts rigorous due diligence on every new applicant to the association. This process involves confirming all marketing and product claims can be substantiated by hard evidence, for example EN test results. This is followed by an audit of the product range and quality assurance procedures. They are welcomed into the association only if they successfully complete due diligence and pass the audit.

Every CHSA member has also signed the CHSA’s rigorous code of practice. It requires them to “maintain a high standard in the conduct of its business”.

The combination of the code of practice and accreditation scheme membership means every member:

  • Trades ethically and sustainably;
  • Provides quality, fit for purpose products; and
  • Makes sure what’s on the box is what’s in the box.

Committed to the integrity of the schemes, the CHSA’s governing council will expel any scheme member who, despite being offered the guidance required to correct issues, consistently fails to conform to the relevant scheme standard.

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