Roundtable: Green Cleaning Product Skepticism

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.


Do you still experience any green cleaning product skepticism from customers?

Actually, we get very little pushback from clients when we speak of sustainable products and programs. — Belinda Jefferson, president, Hercules and Hercules Inc., Detroit

Rarely. However, some customers who had unsuccessful experiences in the distant past are occasionally reluctant. When we encounter these situations, we use the opportunity to educate about improved product performance and the advancement of green products. — Linda Silverman, president, Maintex, City of Industry, California

To some degree we do, but it does not take long for us to prove the viability of the formulas. Since we’re known as the cleaning experts in our markets, our reputation for accurate advice is strong. — Bridget Shuel-Walker, CEO, HP Products, Indianapolis

Sometimes. Customers will have the misconception that all green products are weaker or less effective. Some truly are weaker or less effective and others are priced too high by vendors, but many do perform well and are competitively priced. — Charles Moody, president, Solutex, Inc., Sterling, Virginia

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Evaluating Environmentally Friendly Product Claims