Op-Ed: The Power of Going Green in the Cleaning Services Industry

Wynand Louw | Tsebo Cleaning Services 

In 2016, two significant factors affected the contract cleaning market in South Africa. The most important of these was increased demand for environmentally-friendly practises in cleaning solutions. Going green is becoming increasingly attractive as a business strategy, and this growth has seen the continuous investment in driving the quality in cleaning services, technological innovation and solutions that improve sustainability. A growing trend in the further development of sustainability across all business units within the facilities management sector has been identified but is most noticeable in the cleaning sector of the business.

Facilities management professionals consistently seek to ensure that their services are delivered at a superior level, however many don’t consider the damaging effects that ensue in the pursuit of superior service, most particularly in the facilities management industry. In line with this, it is important to take into consideration the importance of our planet’s dwindling natural resources, without compromising the needs of tomorrow.

The importance of using environmentally friendly solutions in the cleaning industry is imperative as the cleaning industry in South Africa is substantial and continues to grow at a rapid rate. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers companies reporting sustainability efforts have a greater return on assets than companies that do not. It may cost more to install solar panels but monthly savings on energy bills add up fast. Increasingly, businesses are looking to enhance their operating efficiency through sustainability efforts, and opportunities in the sector will abound for years to come.

The benefits of implementing sustainable cleaning methods are extensive, however the most relevant for the South African landscape is that sustainable cleaning results in lowered chemical usage, minimised water use and higher levels of recycling that reduces waste costs. It is the responsibility of the facility managers to educate their staff and create an environment of awareness that encourages sustainable cleaning practices.

An effective method of adopting sustainable solutions in the cleaning industry is by using green-certified and environmentally friendly chemicals whenever possible to reduce direct pollution. Tsebo Cleaning Services has put in place practises that ensure chemical waste is minimised, water usage is lowered, particularly in the Western Cape at present as a result of the devastating drought, and that minimal environmental harm is created. Companies offering cleaning services need to examine the markets they operate in and identify what environmental needs are required.


Although green cleaning has become a favourable option in the industry, many service providers still utilise harmful chemicals that pose a risk not only to the environment, but to the staff who are tasked with using these chemicals. Many companies overlook the critical fact that cleaning products can negatively impact the health of employees, cleaning staff, and customers. Chemicals that are not environmentally friendly can cause asthma, cancer and increased birth defects according to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Cleaning Supplies and Your Health.

Green Cleaning is the most sustainable way of protecting the environment, staff and clients while decreasing a buildings environmental footprint. It is the responsibility of all our staff to ensure their companies are conscious of the risks their methods may pose to the environment, as well as to the general public.

Given the massive change in technology, consumer behaviour and business models, sustainability is both viable and attractive for businesses encouraging economic growth in the long term.

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