21 NOVEMBER 2011

Sustainability - what does it mean?

Sustainability is in danger of becoming one of those meaningless words. One that is overused, sprinkled liberally within marketing copy because it looks good and that is what people want – isn’t it?

The thesaurus tells us that ‘Sustainable’ means ‘Maintaining an Ecological Balance.’ Exploiting natural resources without destroying the ecological balance of an area. So that is what it really means.

 The Marketing arena was recently rocked by an article from a well known figure which goes under the title: ‘Green Marketing is a Crock of ...’ All assumed of course that he did not mean to end the title with ‘Gold’ and furious debate raged.

Essentially this individual identified Green credentials as being unsustainable: that causing slightly fewer emissions than a competitor is not a differentiator that will stand up to scrutiny.

Many, including the Development teams within the Nilfisk Group, fiercely dispute this viewpoint on the grounds that whilst Green remains important to consumers, employees and senior decision makers it will, and should, remain a significant marketing driver.

For example, nearly nine out of 10 consumers worldwide said they would switch to energy providers that offer products and services that help reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions.

All of us are rightly concerned about the future of our planet for the generations to come. We may only be making a minute difference with our individual savings but collectively these compound into a noticeable effect. We need to do our bit.

Nilfisk have a ’Green meets Clean’ Philosophy which has driven product development over recent years.  Cleaning machines naturally consume energy, water and in certain product areas also detergents. Designing equipment which can clean to the same high standard, but use fewer resources has therefore been their greatest challenge. Their goal has been simple, minimal impact on the environment; accomplish more with less - simultaneously reducing costs for customers whilst improving their environmental behaviour.  

The Ecoflex system was born out of this ’Green meets Clean’ Philosophy. The Ecoflex system recognises that it is not necessary to sacrifice cleaning results for environmental issues; a cleaning solution should not be just “green“ but clean too.

Recent years have seen a big increase in green cleaning concepts from a range of manufacturers. The experts at Nilfisk believe that many of these systems neglect cleaning performance, that end users are being asked to sacrifice a good clean result for the benefit of being green.

There is no doubt that Cleaning has a significant environmental impact, substantial amounts of water are used daily in addition to chemical agents. Standards are ever increasing too resulting in longer cleaning hours and consumable useage.  Many facilities now look to use the minimum amount of chemical but chemical free is not always possible if the level of soiling is high. Establishments also vary enormously, an industrial factory floor can hardly be compared to an operating theatre or commercial kitchen.

The Ecoflex concept allows the operator of the machine to match the machines performance to the level of soiling and the amount of cleaning necessary to effect a good result.

All machines start in Ecoflex mode which uses minimal amounts of water, chemical and power. On encountering a soiled area the operator activates a one minute burst of power for extra performance. The machine then moves automatically back into Ecoflex mode retaining the flexibility for more aggressive cleaning when required.

Experienced operators will be used to double scrubbing but this level of flexibility makes double scrubbing a thing of the past.

The Green debate will no doubt continue to rage but the Nilfisk Group retain a central strategy; to develop sustainable products using green technologies with a clear environmental focus. Why – because it makes a difference! ​​​