The European Commission, through an extended consultation program, is currently defining the criteria necessary for EU Ecolabel certification for cleaning services.
This means that the European Union’s environmental quality (and performance) label will soon be envisioned also for given services, such as cleaning service, which has been characterized in recent years by a remarkable rate of innovation to the benefit of the environment in its cleaning products, equipment, and machinery.
A Technical Report, the third, already the fruit of numerous mediations, which outlines a series of criteria divided into the categories obligatory and optional, is currently under public consultation (in other words, open to considerations and proposals for modification by the parties involved).
According to the Regulation being prepared, obligatory criteria constitute the basis of cleaning activities and regard the environmental performances identified as absolute priorities.
Applicants for the EU Ecolabel must satisfy all the obligatory criteria in order to ensure that EU Ecolabel cleaning services have been rendered correctly in terms of environmental performance.
Optional criteria will enable applicants to choose the aspects in which they intend to concentrate most, and will also permit the certain degree of flexibility required by the wide variability in cleaning service supplying methods.
Each optional criterion will be assigned a score based on three factors: environmental improvement, technical feasibility, and costs.
In order to obtain the EU Ecolabel that certifies indoor cleaning services, the service supplied must meet the following requisites:
• be included in the “indoor cleaning services” category (see panel)
• meet all the obligatory criteria, with the respective requisites of evaluation and verification
• comply with a congruent number of optional criteria, achieving a total score of at least 14 points (out of maximum number of 45).
Three parameters were taken into consideration for each criterion, with a different specific weight being assigned to each parameter:
• Environmental improvement: 50%
• Technical feasibility: 20%
• Costs: 30%
Criterion M1 – Use of cleaning products with low environmental impact
This criterion applies only to products directly used during indoor cleaning service activities. The applicant must fulfill the following provisions:
a) At least 50% of the detergent products (in volume) used, with the exception of wet wipes and other pre-moistened cloths and/or mops, must possess the EU Ecolabel or another Type I environmental quality label.
b) All the products that do not bear the EU Ecolabel or any other ISO Type I environmental quality label must be labeled in compliance with the CLP regulation effective as of June 1st.
Wet wipes and other pre-moistened cloths and/or mops must comply with this requisite.
Criterion M2 – Dosage of detergents
Cleaning operators must be provided with access to appropriate systems for the dosage and dilution of the detergents used at each site (for example, automatic dispensers, graduated containers, hand pumps, sprays) and the corresponding instructions for correct dosing and dilution.
Criterion M3 – Use of microfiber products
This criterion is applied only to textile accessories (cleaning cloths, mops, etc.) used during indoor cleaning and maintenance operations.
At least 50% of the textile cleaning accessories (cleaning cloths, mops, etc.) used every year must be in microfiber.
Criterion M4 – Personnel training
The cleaning service supplier must instruct and train cleaning personnel and controllers using written procedures or manuals. In particular, training must cover the following areas:
- personnel must know what the EU Ecolabel is and what it implies in cleaning service supply.
- Personnel must be trained in correctly dosing the detergents for every cleaning activity.
- Personnel must be trained in correctly diluting ready-to-use cleaning products and properly using dosing systems.
- Personnel must be trained in correctly storing cleaning products.
- Personnel must be trained in reducing the range and quantity of detergents to the indispensable minimum in order to avoid excessive use and prevent abuse.
- Personnel must be trained in diluting detergents with water at room temperature unless specified otherwise by the producer.
- In using industrial and domestic wash machines, personnel must be trained in adopting the most appropriate cycle and temperature for the task.
- Personnel must be trained in using microfiber products (whenever possible) in order to reduce the use of water and detergents to the indispensable minimum.
- Personnel must be trained in the use of durable and re-usable cleaning accessories and in minimizing the use of disposable materials (such as gloves, for example) to only the cases strictly necessary for personal safety or hygiene.
- Personnel must be trained in eliminating waste water correctly.
- Personnel must be trained in collecting, sorting, and eliminating solid waste (including hazardous waste, such as batteries) in accordance with the sorted waste collection instructions provided at local and/or national level. Such training must also include the management of solid waste at both company premises and worksites.
Health and safety:
- Personnel must be instructed in the health, safety, and environmental questions posed by leaning-related tasks and must be encouraged to adopt best practices.
Such instruction must include providing sufficient information on:
- handling chemical products
- workplace health, safety, and ergonomics legislation
- removing, cleaning, and storing reusable gloves (when applicable)
- road safety and ecological driving (for applicants with personnel assigned to the transport of detergents).
All newly-hired personnel (permanent and temporary) must be provided with training within four weeks of hiring. Training courses for all personnel must be held at least once a year. Such updating must ensure that all personnel involved are fully aware of their responsibilities.
Criterion M5 – Environmental Management System
The applicant must certify an Environmental Management System and implement:
(1) an environmental policy that identifies the most relevant direct and indirect impacts and defines the behavior to be adopted in regard to the same.
(2) a precise action program that guarantees that the company’s environmental policy is applied to the services supplied. Such action program must establish the environmental objectives regarding the use of resources (such as reducing the detergents used, for example) and actions for the reduction of environmental impact. The definition of such objectives and actions must be supported by the collection of data on the use of resources and other environmental aspects (such as waste production, for example).
Applicants registered in an EMAS and/or certified to ISO 14001, and applicants who are members of an organization registered in an EMAS and/or certified to ISO 14001 will be considered as having satisfied such criterion whenever they effectively document their registration in an EMAS and/or certification to ISO 14001.
Criterion M6 – Sorting of solid waste at applicant’s premises
This criterion applies solely to waste eliminated at the applicant’s premises. The applicant must provide personnel with the tools required to sort solid waste in the appropriate categories, such as waste to be sent for treatment (for example, recycling, incineration) or waste to be eliminated in conformity with local or national waste management procedures.