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The economic case for sustainable cleaning.


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As environmental issues rise up the corporate agenda, building managers are under increasing pressure to make their buildings more sustainable, while at the same time controlling costs. Many have already committed to sustainable practices and will give preference to suppliers who can support them.

For contract cleaners, this represents a real opportunity to grow their business by demonstrating to customers how going 'green' can make sound economic sense. The key to success is to find the right supplier – one who not only manufactures products on sustainable principles but whose cleaning products can be relied on to equal or even outperform their traditional alternatives.

As the name behind Scotchgard™ Solutions and ScotchBrite™ Products, two of the world's best known cleaning brands, 3M has a reputation for developing environmentally preferable solutions whose superior performance and durability makes them truly cost-effective options. In 2011 the company was ranked No. 2 on Interbrand's 'Best Global Green Brands' based on both public perception and actual product performance.

"At 3M we have long recognised that what is good for the environment can also be good for business," says Richard Jones – Market Manager, Floor and Surface Care. "Our sustainability efforts are focused on three core principles: reducing our environment footprint; taking social responsibility for our actions; and growing 3M through the creation of products that help our customers address their own sustainability challenges."

Every 3M product undergoes a 'Life Cycle Management' audit, to determine everything from material usage to transportation to disposal. "We consider all the environmental, health, and safety implications of bringing that particular product into the world" says Jones. But it is 3M's track-record for delivering improved performance at a 'total lower cost' that is helping contract cleaners to win over new customers who were under the mistaken assumption that sustainability and cost saving were mutually exclusive.

With 90% of cleaning costs tied up in human labour, the biggest controlling factor on costs is not the price of the materials, but their impact on performance and productivity. Take the example of Scotchgard™ Stone Floor Protector which delivers a brilliant shine without the need for traditional floor finish chemicals and traditional maintenance processes, and requires just two coats a year, compared to 4-6 for traditional acrylic finishes. By reducing the maintenance and chemical requirements associated with acrylic products it can save up to 35% on operations costs in the first year, and up to 60% in subsequent years.

Similarly, Nomad Aqua Series Textile Entrance Matting gives you longer lasting protection, at a total lower cost, by stopping 80% of dirt and moisture at the door. It is bonded onto PVC which is free of environmentally damaging phthalates, and is sufficiently durable to last for years without replacement. Unlike rental matting, it doesn't require washing with cleaning chemicals. And there is no need to transport it back and forth to central laundries, reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Increasingly, says 3M, it is contract cleaners who are driving their clients on sustainable issues, and with good reason. "As a cleaning contractor looks to grow their business, their No. 1 priority is to retain their customers. Retention is built on delighting customers and meeting their needs. So if your customer is considering or actively pursuing sustainable initiatives it's in your interest to help them achieve their goals by demonstrating how going green can also make their budgets more 'lean'."


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