One of the biggest problems that the commoditization of cleaning has perpetuated is that it encourages the purchasing of cheap, low-end equipment. Vacuums are in a different price and quality category from larger equipment such as rider scrubbers; it’s almost as if vacuums are viewed as disposable, Ashkin says. And when BSCs are buying equipment in relation to the contracts they have, it doesn’t always make financial sense to buy high-end vacuums.

“If I have a one-year contract with a large building and as part of that, I have to go out and buy 10 new vacuum cleaners; as a businessman, do I want to buy a vacuum that would last three years if the length of the contract is one year?” Ashkin asks.

Environmental costs are usually higher for low-end products that aren’t made to withstand the demanding workload of a large janitorial account. A durable vacuum that lasts longer inherently has less of an environmental impact, Ashkin says.

“Durability isn’t just a cost issue — it really has significant environmental impacts,” he says.

Eric Cadell, vice president of operations at Dutch Hollow Supplies, a distributor in Belleville, Ill., encourages BSCs to shop for quality, durable vacuum cleaners.
“One of the only truly sustainable ways to deal with vacuums is to keep them out of landfills,” he says. “Get out of that $100 range and invest in one that is $300 to $400. Buying a new low-end vacuum every two months is more expensive in the long run than buying one nice high-end vacuum that lasts that entire year. And you’re keeping machines out of the landfill.”

It does typically cost more to purchase machines of better quality and durability, but that’s not news to BSCs; return on investment should be taken into consideration when making any purchase, says Renae Hesselink, vice president of sustainability at Nichols, a distributor in Spring Lake, Mich.

“We need to get past only considering the initial cost of equipment thinking method when evaluating the purchase of equipment and take into consideration the entire cost to purchase, maintain and for performance,” she says. A good preventative maintenance program that includes proper care and cleaning of the equipment itself will also help to cut down on future repair costs.

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