he COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses around the globe and forced organisations to rethink their current operating models. As this new reality unfolds and companies navigate the normal, what impact will this accelerated change have on the role of corporate social responsibility?
GREEN PRODUCTS According to Steve Agar, co-managing director of Agar Cleaning Solutions, the clear shift in recent months has been to greater purchases of disinfectant and sanitisers, with the preference for hospital-grade disinfectants and especially for products which carry a claim to be effective on COVID-19. There is also demand for disinfectants suitable for fogging, which some are seeing as a more thorough and productive way of treating interior surfaces. Sales of hand sanitiser have stabilised now that the shortage of supply has been met by a multitude of new manufacturers. To counter that, sales of general janitorial and hospitality products have declined where economic activity has been suppressed by lockdowns and other government restrictions. 26 INCLEAN September / October 2020
Agar believes COVID-19 will have a negative impact only to the extent that in certain circumstances, the need for a particular disinfectant will take priority over and supplant the use of a product with leading green credentials. “Before the COVID-19 outbreak, citing safety and sustainability, some suppliers to the industry have advocated chemical-free cleaning and demonised chemicals in the process. Then, once the threat from COVID-19 had been realised, what did everyone turn to for the eradication of the virus from surfaces? Disinfection chemicals.” More generally though, he says the pandemic has demonstrated the need for regular and thorough cleaning to maintain hygienic facilities for building occupants. “Facility managers and cleaning managers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their cleaning operations, and more regular cleaning activity will increase the potential impact on the environment. “Choosing more sustainable products and processes will help to mitigate against that greater impact. So, in that way, the pandemic is likely to contribute to expanded use of ‘green’ cleaning process and products, and further reduction of their environmental impact.