The “Go Green” impulse takes many a winding turn as companies push and pull themselves and their products to meet the increasingly high standards in manufacture and production. A great example of the different factors at play just under the surface of an over-used term is the case of green floor pads. Janitorial companies in Los Angeles are met with a range of terms when confronting the ever-growing number of pads on the market.
Sustainable? Environmentally responsible? Biodegradable?
If your pad is manufactured with polyester, as are most floor pads created for the most common uses of stripping, scrubbing, and burnishing, the pads are not biodegradable. The floor pad market present something of a murky association of terms, with products with some sustainability attributes often assumed to be the full range of sustainable terms. Here are a few options that offer some degree of sustainability. As you see, there is no perfect pad.
Post-Consumer: One option growing in popularity is the PET pad, which is made from 100% post-consumer PET plastic fibers (the same plastic that makes up drink bottles). To be sure, recycled materials reduce the need for new plastic sourcing, which is a good thing. The downside comes at the end of this product’s life, where, because of resin and mineral additives that sometimes go into the production of the pad, the PET is not able to be sourced and recycled again. Talk to your distributor to find out how recyclable your used pad is.
Hog Hair pads: Here’s a surprise: that bristly hair of wild hogs, which are invasive species in much of the country, actually does wonders for floors! Hog’s hair pads are a great option for polishing and burnishing and, because the material is natural, used pads biodegrade much better than their polyester counterparts. Unfortunately, keep in mind that these are not 100% hog, and many pad materials are blended with some polyester for durability. Still, every little bit helps.
Bio-plastics: When bioplastic products came on the market a number of years back, everyone went wild over the idea that their plastics could actually biodegrade. To be sure, the bio options degrade much faster in landfills than the petroleum-based options. Still, there are two facts that put a damper on the bioplastics project: landfill conditions tend to vary greatly from the controlled environments the products were tested in, and real-life biodegrading times vary accordingly. Second, when bioplastics degrade, they DO still release greenhouse gases, making them by no means perfect when compared to materials that can be recycled, possibly at a lower environmental impact.
The big concerns for janitorial companies in Los Angeles who are selecting a floor pad are the same: the questions of affordability, durability, and performance. As all three standards increases for sustainable floor pads, keep your ear to the ground as more products continue to improve.