Reducing Plastics for Room Care

Sustainability has emerged as one of the biggest issues facing society. Hotels are playing their part by making their operations more sustainable and demonstrating progress to their guests. This is important because industry research has shown that three of the biggest sustainability factors that influence guest satisfaction are when the hotel:

  • uses sustainable products and supplies
  • employs water-saving devices in public spaces and guest rooms
  • has a recycling policy

One of the simplest ways to promote sustainability in housekeeping is to replace traditional ready-to-use and bulk chemical products with ultra-concentrates in conjunction with a suitable dosing or dilution control system. With these systems, water is only added at the point of use, rather than the place of manufacture, which leads to a number of sustainability benefits.

For hotels, Diversey offers its ultra-concentrate room care ranges with the Divermite dosing control and DQFM dilution control systems. Products are supplied in self-contained pouches that are placed in a wall-mounted unit. With Divermite, pushing a button on the unit dispenses a predetermined amount of product into a spray bottle or bucket containing water. DQFM mixes the product and water automatically. Each pouch contains more active cleaning product than a similarly sized traditional alternative. Another way of looking at this is that fewer pouches are needed to support a housekeeping team’s weekly, monthly or yearly cleaning requirements.

The first result of this is a reduction in plastics consumption. Depending on the product and system used, ultra-concentrates can reduce packaging material by up to 98% compared to ready-to-use products. One pouch of DQFM ultra-concentrate can replace around 280 ready-to-use products for the same job. This saves over 40kg of plastics that no longer needs to be manufactured, transported, stored or recycled. In a typical hotel using our latest systems, our trials showed that this would save around one kilogramme of plastics per room per year. On top of this there is a 98% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with production and the supply chain.

The second advantage of using ultra-concentrates is cleaning consistency. We found people overuse chemicals by six times the recommended dilution rate when using open ‘glug-glug’ containers. With ultra-concentrates, solutions are prepared simply, quickly and accurately and there is no wastage of water or product, which reduces costs. Preparing solutions to the manufacturer’s specification in this way ensures ideal cleaning performance. There is no need for time-consuming and expensive repeat cleaning if solutions are too weak or additional rinsing and wiping if they are too strong. Water and product consumption is reduced and cleaning is faster and better.

With Diversey’s latest systems all of the packaging is recyclable. That makes it much easier for hotels to adopt a recycling policy and tell their guests about it. Manufacturers are constantly improving designs to make packs easier to recycle. However, recycling is dependent on local infrastructure to collect, sort, and recover packaging materials. These localised limitations mean no manufacturer can guarantee its packaging materials will be recycled everywhere.

All of these benefits are enhanced even further when the product itself is formulated and manufactured to meet the highest sustainability standards. All of our products are designed and manufactured to support improvements in sustainability. This includes making the product safer and simpler to use, reducing the amount of energy or water it consumes, reducing associated CO2 emissions, better packaging design and reduced raw materials use, and the ability to recycle more easily after use.

We were the first commercial cleaning product supplier to sign the voluntary, independently certified AISE Charter for Sustainable Cleaning. This demonstrates high levels of sustainability within our own operations as well as the products we make. Many of our formulations – including our latest products for housekeepers – are certified to international EU Ecolabel sustainability standard.

Manufacturers and hotel groups often work together to devise more sustainable processes. Many are adopting lifecycle thinking into their analysis to help minimise potential negative impacts associated with packaging. This includes utilising sustainability scorecards or similar techniques that identify opportunities to improve packaging during material selection, manufacturing, use, and eventual recycling.

Fragrance Makes a Difference

We naturally associate bad smells with something being wrong. Smell is part of our built-in defence mechanism and there is some evidence it was the first sense developed millions of years ago by the earliest living creatures from which we all evolved. It is hard-wired into our brains so that we can detect and react quickly to potential dangers. But we also associate pleasant fragrances with nice things, perhaps because our senses also adapted to detect safe environments and good sources of food. No wonder we react so positively and negatively to good and bad smells.

But what does this mean for hotels? Well, it’s clear nobody likes a bad smell so if we detect one in a hotel room we might suspect something is wrong. We could think the room wasn’t cleaned properly or that the hotel doesn’t care about its guests. And nobody likes to see any evidence of a previous occupant, even though we know someone else was using the room last night. Those first impressions can be hard to shake off which is why guests tend to give negative recommendations and reviews if they experience an unclean room.

Research conducted by Diversey with Hotelschool the Hague demonstrated this. It revealed 41 per cent of guests said cleanliness is the most important factor when recommending a hotel. The cleanliness of bathrooms and bedrooms influence guests the most when they form their all-important first impression. Reviews and recommendations – and even cleanliness ratings – are now key parts of online travel, tourist and booking sites which means there is a direct link between cleaning and business performance.

Good cleaning and pleasant smells should go hand in hand. And responsible hotels put a lot of time and effort into making sure they do. So what can cause bad smells and what can housekeepers do about it?

The first, and most obvious, is that there are plenty of things to be found in bedrooms and bathrooms that will immediately smell bad to us. No surprise there, which is why regular cleaning carried out properly should be part of the daily housekeeping routine.

The next step is to remove potential sources of bad smells. Organic deposits left uncleaned in bedrooms and bathrooms can be a source of food for bacteria. As they digest and decompose the deposit, the bacteria emit gases containing sulphur or other compounds that our senses interpret as a potential danger. Regular cleaning should remove most but sometimes a little extra help is required. Drains and plug holes can be a particular problem. Diversey has developed special products containing enzymes that break down deposits in a different way so that bacteria have no food source and cannot produce the bad smells. These products can be used diluted for daily cleaning or undiluted for pouring into sinks, drains and urinals.

Other sources of bad smells can include strong foods and tobacco smoke which can linger in rooms, even if guests are not supposed to have them there. The reason our brains interpret some smells as bad is that the shape of the molecules that cause them can lock perfectly into sockets in our noses known as receptors. In fact, all smells are detected like this and it’s the same principle as a hand and glove, two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle or a nut and bolt fitting together. It follows that changing the shape of a smelly molecule should stop our noses from detecting it. Diversey has some clever products that do just this. We call this Odour Neutralising Technology and it’s included in a number of cleaning and hygiene products.

So, after all that cleaning, what about providing the aromas that make a room smell nice and create a great first impression? Cleaning alone is rarely enough so most products contain fragrances which are released as they are used. Suppliers – including Diversey – go to great lengths to get these fragrances right. Many of them work with specialist “fragrance houses” who develop new perfumes. These fragrances need to be strong enough to do the job but not so much as to be overpowering because that would give the wrong effect. Including the right amount of a similar fragrance in different products can produce a layered effect which works well. Recent advances in technology mean that fragrances are released gradually to provide a longer-lasting effect.

Fragrances also need to be the right type. Apparently, our favourite smell is that of freshly baked bread but that’s not really suitable for a hotel room. Instead, oddly enough, we prefer to be reminded of the great outdoors when we stay in hotels – so many products incorporate fragrances that hint at flowers, plants, forests or oceans.