Over the past few years, we have seen how several chemical manufacturers in the professional cleaning industry are working to promote sustainability. For instance, more cleaning supplies are now delivered in five-gallon containers and in very concentrated form.

These products last longer, which means that the amount of fuel and greenhouse gasses necessary to transport these products can be reduced. Further, this helps lessen packaging needs, helping to decrease the amount of cleaning-related waste that typically ends up in landfills.

However, something new is on the horizon that may further enhance sustainability. Some consumer cleaning products are now being delivered in tablet form. Essentially, what is happening is all the water has been removed from these cleaning solutions. What remains is the dry product that can be activated simply by mixing in tap or distilled water.

Why is this so significant?

When you think about it, most of the cleaning solutions used in professional cleaning – whether it is window cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, carpet shampoos, sanitizers, disinfectants, even spot removers, all contain water in varying amounts. Water is heavy. A gallon of water weighs about eight pounds. So, when we transport millions of gallons of cleaning solutions around the country, what we are in essence transporting is tons and tons of heavy water.

So, once again, less weight means less fuel to transport these items, and less fuel means fewer greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere.

The “tabletization” of cleaning supplies may have other benefits as well. For instance:

The tablets can be delivered in large plastic containers. Because the containers remain dry, it is easy to recycle or reuse them. Jansan chemical manufacturers may even develop “return and reuse” programs where the plastic containers can be returned for a refund.

Safety may be enhanced. We know that many of the injuries suffered by custodial workers are the result of handling – or mishandling – cleaning chemicals. In dried tablet form, this is less likely to be an issue.

Product purity may also be enhanced. The opening and closing of cleaning solution containers allow airborne contaminants to find their way into the solutions. How much impact this has, we do not know. However, we do know that some cleaning products, such as sanitizers and disinfectants, can lose their efficacy if they become too contaminated.

Tablets will take up less closet space. Chemicals require a lot of closet space, plus moving multi-gallon containers in the closet opens the door to injury.

Indoor air quality is protected.  Cleaning solutions, even green cleaning solutions, can release fumes. These fumes can negatively impact indoor air quality.

So, should we expect more jansan chemical manufacturers to embrace tabletization? The best answers are “in time” and “with certain products.”

We probably will find that not all cleaning solutions can be effectively converted into tablets and still provide the cleaning performance considered necessary.

Further, there will be costs to transfer from current manufacturing methods, using water, to production methods that just produce tablets. However, manufacturing cleaning products in tablet form may be more automated, require less manufacturing space, and help reduce transport costs for the manufacturer and distributor.

This means that cost-savings are possible that can make the transfer to tablets worthwhile, not just for manufacturers and distributors, but end-customers as well.

Stephen Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group and known in the professional cleaning industry as the father of green cleaning and the industry leader, turning sustainability into cost savings.  He can be reached at steveashkin@ashkingroup.com


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