It has been decades since the first green cleaning products began popping up in the jan/san industry. For many distributors, the products are now old hat and promotion of such products can seem a little trite. But viewed through another lens, that just means green cleaning products are now an industry success, overcoming skepticism — some warranted — of their efficacy.

What has been seemingly slower to gain traction is the concept of internal sustainability for companies at each level of the supply chain. So we turned to our trusted advisory board for clues as to just how far that movement has come.
 
There wasn’t exactly a consensus, but it seems that after stalling out of the gate, internal sustainability initiatives are creeping into the minds of distributors. What’s more, distributors indicate that there is something of a sustainability expectation for vendors, but not for distributors — yet. Those expectations may be coming, however. According to a 2014 survey by Sanitary Maintenance, nearly 40 percent of distributors anticipate more customers asking about sustainability initiatives.

When you sell green cleaning products, do you feel obligated to also have an internal sustainability initiative?

Absolutely. It is one thing to sell a green program, but most customers and employees want you to practice what you preach. Customers want to know that you believe in sustainability, not just sell products to profit from them. — Mercer Stanfield, president, Brame Specialty Supply Co., Inc., Durham, North Carolina

I hate to think of it so much as being an obligation but rather as having the opportunity. There are parts of the country that don’t even have basic programs for recycling. It’s a shame that those wanting to participate have to load up their recyclables and tote them to a recycling center. Of course we use the green products that we promote to maintain our office. They work well, and we trust in their safety to keep our staff healthy. I learned a lesson in sales long ago: You can’t effectively sell something you don’t believe in. — Scott Uselman, manager and director of sales, High Point Sanitary Solutions, Houston

I think it makes sense to do so, especially if you believe in what you sell. We instituted an internal program years ago and have maintained the process since then. — Bridget Shuel-Walker, CEO, HP Products, Indianapolis

Not necessarily. Most customers are generally interested in our green product offering rather than the internal sustainability initiative. — Linda Silverman, president, Maintex, City of Industry, California

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