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February 2022

Balancing hygiene standards and social responsibility

Written by Bakang Kganyago
Environment and Green Hygiene

In this blog, we will look at the balance between hygiene and sustainability and how you can reassure your customers and employees.

The past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have accelerated the awareness and importance of hygiene and wellness practices as a vital part of corporate social responsibility. Companies are now -  more than ever before - expected to take responsibility for the hygiene standards and wellbeing of their employees as well as their customers, and the health and safety standards demanded by stakeholders are the highest they've ever been. And by the looks of it, will remain so for the foreseeable future. 

Single-use PPE

However, the pandemic has also had a drastic impact on sustainability due to the negative impact single-use PPE has on the environment. A report from the National Academy of Sciences says more than eight million tons of pandemic associated plastic waste has already been generated globally, with more than 25 000 tons making its way into the sea, onto our beaches and even to the bottom of the ocean floor. We looked at the issue of being hygienic and environmentally friendly in a previous blog of the same name. 

People are very concerned about the lasting effects the pandemic will have on the environment and there have been calls for inventors, entrepreneurs and businesses to help limit the damage that is being caused with more creative solutions to single-use PPE. These two factors are challenging for businesses because at face value they seem to oppose each other.

Hygiene standards and social responsibility

The sustainability movement gained momentum in recent years with manufacturers in the hygiene and cleaning industries placing priority on re-evaluating and changing the chemicals, packaging, and processes used in rendering their services, and businesses in the industry were encouraged to adopt processes that have less impact on the environment.

However, just as progress was being made in this area, the pandemic threw a spanner in the works by creating a huge demand for single-use PPE, disinfectant sprays (that increase the number of plastic bottles produced), and medical waste (produced in the mass testing and vaccination process) - all of which resulted in a huge set back in the progress that was being made.

Post-pandemic 'new normal'?

Now that we are in what is - hopefully - the last stages of the pandemic, questions are being asked. regarding what the new normal should look like. Sustainability and high hygiene standards should not be mutually exclusive - but how do we achieve that?

How do we balance the corporate social responsibility of providing both higher hygiene standards for employees and customers,  with an increased focus on sustainability necessary to safeguard our environment?

A fine balance - and selecting the hygiene partner 

My opinion on this is that to balance the two requires paying careful attention when selecting your hygiene partner. And furthermore, providing the same level of care with your business' health and safety protocols.

When selecting your hygiene partner, ensure you ask the right questions

For example, how do they dispose of their sanitary and medical waste, or PPE found in their waste bins? Are the chemicals used in their soap dispensers harmful to the environment?

Initial is a registered medical and sanitary waste carrier and offers eco-friendly bio-enzyme soaps which use “friendly” bacteria to clean and create an ongoing protective layer against harmful bacteria. You can read more about why we love bio-soaps in our blog: Designed to be kind.

The importance of asking the right questions is that it not only helps your business pick a provider that can balance high hygiene standards with the right sustainability goals - but it also helps encourage more businesses in the hygiene and cleaning industry to place more importance on addressing their impact on the environment. This will ultimately help the industry to collectively move in the right direction.

Contact Initial today about a hygiene survey to find out how we can help you balance your hygiene and sustainability goals for your employees and customers.  You may also be interested in downloading our Global Hygiene Reset Report.

Download Global Hygiene Reset Report

Bakang Kganyago

Bakang Kganyago

Bakang is a Digital Marketing Executive for Rentokil Initial. A germaphobe at heart, he's passionate about learning and sharing insights on how to defeat the enemy we cannot see. Join his journey as he writes about the impact of germs in our daily lives.

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