Replacing cleaning products that are traditionally sold in single-use plastic bottles can eliminate billions of plastic bottles and sprayers from entering the waste stream.
TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government
KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Concerned citizens can be encouraged by city-wide actions toward alternative solutions, either in city operations and public procurement, as part of public awareness and engagement campaigns, or both.
Cleaning liquids are sold in durable plastic bottles that are designed to withstand many uses, but yet they are typically only used until their original contents are finished. Only a small fraction of these plastic bottles and sprayers are recycled, adding to plastic waste flows into nature, and posing a serious threat to the environment and marine wildlife.
90 % of a typical cleaning product is water. Innovative companies like Blueland are now creating “modern” household cleaners that are sold in concentrated tablet form, activated by simply adding water in a reusable spray and pump bottle. This “buy the bottle once, refill for life” approach is projected to divert 100 billion single-use plastic bottles from the waste stream. In addition to Blueland, plastic-free cleaning supply solutions include: Amazon’s Clean Revolution, Replenish’s CleanPath and Unilever’s CIF EcoRefill.
Oceansaver is another company that is using concentrated cleaning drops that are 100% plant-based. You just add their Eco-drops to water in a reusable bottle, shake, and clean.
The company Smol has a plastic-free cleaning line-up that includes concentrated laundry detergent capsules, concentrated dishwash tablets, as well as surface cleaning tablets that dissolve in water.
Tru Earth Eco-Strips laundry detergents have a significantly smaller footprint than liquid and powder detergents, according to the company. Tru Earth's packaging uses zero plastic, and its light weight material reduces transportation fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 94%, compared to today’s leading-brand liquid and powder detergent (according to Tru Earth).
These are just a number of plastic-free cleaning products that are revolutionizing the sector. Cities can lead the way in using plastic-free cleaning supplies in their own municipal janitorial community while also informing citizens of the damage the disposal of traditional household cleaning bottles and sprayers have on our planet.
Furthermore, cities can promote smart alternatives by offering free samples of or rebates for plastic-free products. The City of Seattle, Washington, for example, in its continued effort to conserve water, gives away free low-consumption toilets and shower heads to qualified homeowners. This same approach can be used to reduce plastic: inform, engage and empower people to make better, plastic-free choices for our shared environment.
See our Public Awareness Best Practice for more engagement opportunities: https://plasticsmartcities.org/products/public-awareness
The city of San Francisco has 26,000 municipal employees, over 1,000 city facilities and parks, and other public spaces, accounting for almost 15 percent of citywide solid waste generation. Seeing opportunities to lead by example, SF Environment developed comprehensive educational programs and trained over 10,000 employees, including custodians, property managers, purchasers and administrative staff, on the whys and hows of waste prevention, recycling and composting. Department heads appointed zero waste coordinators at each departmental location, with zero waste coordinators being held accountable for waste reduction targets and required to report annually on their progress.
Cleaning supplies and custodial services are one such area that the city works to reduce waste, while also businesses in the community adopt new green practices. For more information of the city of San Francisco’s Custodial Green Cleaning program, see https://sfenvironment.org/article/custodial-green-cleaning
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