Friday, 31 May 2013

Why bleach is not always the solution you need

Many cleaners contain chlorine bleach because of the whitening power bleach possesses, but there are many hazardous health-related and inconvenient factors involved in bleach-based cleaners that should be considered. Bleach is a disinfectant with germ-killing properties, but the potential toxicity of the product leads many consumers and businesses to find alternative cleaners.


Chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochlorite. This is a chemical compound that takes the form of powder, pellets and liquids. The odour of chlorine bleach is distinctive and often discernible in pool cleaners, household cleaners, laundry and dish detergents and disinfectants. Bleach is not flammable by itself but when mixed with other materials, such as ammonia, can have explosive results. Bleach is poisonous and corrosive when ingested and corrosive to skin and soft body tissues.

1. Bleach is corrosive

The reason that bleach is most frequently used -- making things white and bright again -- is also one of the biggest downfalls of using bleach and cleaning products containing bleach. Bleach can "bleach out" coloured fabrics, upholstery, carpet and even other types of flooring. Bleach can eat through finishes on wood floors, linoleum and certain cabinet finishes. Cleaners with bleach possess all of the corrosive properties of straight bleach. If cleaners with bleach whiten greying fabric and dingy surfaces, just think what those substances do to your skin. Bleach-based cleaners can burn flesh and irritate eyes and mucous passages.

2. Bleach is toxic

When bleach and cleaners containing bleach are mixed with ammonia-based products, ammonia, pool chemicals, oven and drain cleaners, and acidic-based products such as vinegar, toxic fumes and gases are produced. When an acid-based product, such as certain rust removing products or vinegar variations, mix with bleach, it will form chlorine gas. Chlorine gas at least is an irritant and at worst is fatal. When mixed with ammonia, bleach causes highly toxic chloramine gas. Ammonia isn't just found in cleaning products, it can be naturally occurring in urine, such as pet or baby urine. Never mix bleach with anything other than water.

3. Bleach is not suitable for cleaning!

Bleach-based cleaning products, as well as pure bleach, are disinfectants but bleach by itself is not a cleaner; it doesn't remove dirt. Bleach is a germ-killing solution. However, many bleach-based household cleaners incorporate cleaners so the consumer gets the properties of bleach combined with an effective cleanser. Household cleaners are labelled to indicate whether they are cleaners, disinfectants or both. Bleach-based cleaners kill viruses, such as influenza A and B, bacteria and fungi, such as athlete's foot.

Greener cleaning – the alternative

There may be no such thing as 'green' cleaning products – even plant and mineral-based formulations require water to neutralise their impact as well as energy for the manufacturing process and transport for their raw ingredients, potential fertiliser and pesticide use on the crops, plus competition between food and non-food uses of land. However, there are an increasing number of companies that are trying to produce or use cleaning products is a more responsible way. For virtually all of these companies, that means that they avoid petrochemicals and chemicals such as chlorine bleaches as well as phosphates and synthetic fragrances. One example of such companies is Cleaning Ventures (, a Manchester-based commercial cleaning company who EMERGE is now working with to provide cleaning solutions for our commercial customers.  

Cleaning Ventures: A case study

The 5 main cleaning products the company uses were chosen because they are the first manufactured in the UK to be accredited with the UK Ecolabel. As an example, their glass and mirror cleaner contains vinegar and their toilet cleaner uses a formula based on organic fruit acids. Pete Bridge-Collyns, Managing Director of Cleaning Ventures, said: “At Cleaning Ventures we are very keen to work with our customers to help maximise their environmental compliance. We ensure a squeaky clean, fresh, professional work environment without unnecessary use of harsh chemicals. Non-bleach based solutions are perfectly capable of ensuring the highest levels of cleanliness and hygiene, a crucial factor regularly applied elbow grease! We are delighted to work with EMERGE to offer high quality cleaning solutions for customers who share our values."


Smaller wheelie bin plan to get people to recycle more

Black wheelie bins could be slashed in size by a quarter in a town hall drive to boost recycling.

Environment chiefs want to gradually roll smaller general waste bins out across Manchester as they look to save cash and cut landfill. Blue and brown bins – for paper and glass – will more than double in size if the plans are agreed by councillors. But any household needing a new or replacement black wheelie bin would be given a 180-litre version instead of the current 240-litre size. In some parts of south Manchester an even smaller 140-litre bin is being considered.

The city currently recycles around 37pc of its rubbish – higher than some Greater Manchester authorities but nowhere near as much as council bosses would like. While neighbouring Salford – which uses the same large bins as Manchester – recycles less at around 30pc, Stockport, which has used 140-litre bins for several years, has one of the highest rates in the country at 63pc. Over the next two years, Manchester bosses want to cut costs by £540,000 by increasing recycling, which is cheaper to process than landfill.

As well as cutting the size of its bins, they are considering a ‘closed lid’ policy, meaning over-filled bins would not be collected. They are also reviewing a rule that gives families of six or more an extra bin. Meanwhile contractors are currently removing any ‘unauthorised’ black bins they find at properties in north and central Manchester, before moving onto the south in the next few weeks.

Manchester currently pays around £32m a year to dump household waste in landfill – a figure council bosses say is not sustainable. Coun Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, insisted the new 180-litre bins would help. He added: “Although these black bins would still be larger than those used in some of our neighbouring authorities, they would encourage people to think more carefully about what they throw away as more than 70 per cent of items put into black bins can be recycled.”


Co-op to recycle all waste from its UK food stores

Food retailer the Co-operative Group is set to divert all waste from its 2,800 UK food stores by the end of July. The firm had pledged to send more than 34,000 tonnes of store food waste per annum for recycling, reuse or energy production by the end of the year, but has now reached that target five months ahead of schedule through its recycling scheme.

The scheme, known as ‘Project Womble’, involves waste being segregated at store level, before collection and delivery to distribution depots. The retailer claims the scheme will also put an end to more than 225,000 skip collections from food stores every year and have its waste management costs.

According to the Co-operative, 64% of its 34,000 tonnes of annual food store waste is food and flowers, which will be sent for energy production through anaerobic digestion. A further 21% is general and customer waste and will be sent to a refuse derived fuel facility and energy recovery.

Meanwhile, dry mixed recycling such as empty milk bottles, tins, cans, office paper and till receipts – which makes up 15% – will be sent for sorting at materials recycling facilities. Cardboard and polythene at stores will continue to be baled and sent for recycling.

UK food waste charity FareShare is also working with the retailer to send surplus foods from distribution depots, such as oversupplies and products with damaged but intact packaging, to disadvantaged people in the community.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Retailers commit to further cuts in food waste

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has announced that grocery retailers have signed up to challenging new targets for cutting food waste in the supply chain and at home.

Under the third phase of the Courtauld Commitment, launched yesterday (Thursday) by the resource efficiency body WRAP, all the major grocery retailers have agreed to work towards three new environmental goals, including a commitment to reduce household food waste by five per cent by 2015 (from a 2012 baseline).

The BRC has welcomed the new agreement as a clear demonstration of retailers’ commitment to reducing food waste further, both from farm gate to shelf and in the home.

The new agreement follows on from significant success in meeting the first and second phase Courtauld targets since it launched in 2005. In phase one, 670,000 tonnes of food waste were avoided between 2005 and 2009 and annual UK household food waste fell by 1.1m tonnes between 2006/7 and 2010. To date Courtauld 2 has delivered a 3% reduction in household food waste.

Measures introduced by retailers to help curb food waste in the home include offering a range of product portion sizes, to fit different customer needs, providing advice on how to store food and recipes for using up leftovers. Retailers are also active participants in the ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ campaign run by WRAP.

Phase three also covers ambitious targets for further reducing waste in the grocery supply chain and improving packaging design to minimize its carbon impact.

BRC food and sustainability director Andrew Opie said: “These new targets build on the major strides already made by grocery retailers to reduce food and packaging waste. Despite the downturn and other challenges affecting business, the retail industry is continuing to innovate and collaborate on waste reduction as well as working hard to meet wider green goals across all aspects of its operations. That’s delivering real environmental benefits as well as value for customers.”


Survey: not enough UK firms are recycling their waste

Many UK businesses still send their waste and rubbish to landfill and have yet to ‘get the message’ about recycling, a new survey has found.

Research by revealed that “up to 80%” of firms in the UK had no green or environmental policy in place and many companies did not separate recyclable waste from non-recyclable.

Many did not sort plastic, paper and glass waste, the survey also found, and a few were prepared to break the law and fly-tip to cut or remove the cost of handling their waste material.

The situation reflected “very badly” upon the UK, said recycling manager.

"Other countries have forged ahead with commercial recycling, but a high proportion of UK companies seemingly can't be bothered and contribute to the 228 million tons of waste we produce every year.

"Landfill is both wasteful and expensive and businesses are hitting themselves in the bank balance because of their inability or unwillingness to recycle. It's not a big step to implement a green policy, and it saves money almost from the start."


At Emerge we collect all grades of dry recyclables as well as IT+WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). We can offer a comprehensive waste management solution for organisations and schools across Greater Manchester. Tel. 0161 223 8200

Friday, 10 May 2013

Does your company breach data protection law?

A shocking 87% of small businesses experienced a data breach in the last year, according to the 2013 Information Security Breaches Survey, launched last week by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills in the UK.

Unlike large businesses, SMEs tend not to have the resources to have a dedicated Information Control Officer. Therefore, it is even more important to have robust data protection protocols in place so that every employee understands data protection. In effect every individual has to share this responsibility!

Over one-third of SMEs in the UK do not have any protocols in place for storing and destroying the confidential information they hold. Over three quarters provide no training on information security and a similar number do not destroy electronic storage devices properly. 

At EMERGE we provide fully compliant and secure confidential document shredding and IT destruction services for organisations and schools across Greater Manchester. Click on the link below to see our new hard-drive destruction machine in action: 

We also collect all grades of dry recyclables as well as IT+WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).

Call us on 0161 223 8200 for a quote today or visit We are here to help you be data compliant and environmentally responsible at the same time.


For more information about the survey, visit:

Friday, 3 May 2013

Charity asks for more donations of surplus food from supermarkets

Supermarkets and other food suppliers have been urged donate more of their surplus produce to help feed the poor and homeless.

More than 43,000 people are being fed at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and community centres every day, with food distribution centres struggling to cope with demand, a leading charity has said.

FareShare, which redistributes surplus donated by the food industry, has seen the largest increase in demand in its 18-year history and now supplies more than 910 charities. “Last year we fed more people than ever before, but we know the demand for our services is increasing at an alarming rate,” said Lindsay Boswell, FareShare’s chief executive.

“The amount of food we redistributed increased by 16 per cent last year. However, the number of charities we’re supporting increased by 26 per cent and we know there are many more out there in need of our support.”

Despite the growing demand, only 1 per cent of the surplus produced by the food industry is donated to charity, FareShare said. It works with many supermarkets, manufacturers and distributors who provide varying amounts of free surplus food, fit for human consumption, to the charity. However, other options for dealing with waste, such as selling it for animal food production or energy production, can be profitable.

FareShare’s food director, Mark Varney, told The Independent that there was “lots more” the food industry could be doing to help.

“Our message is people first,” he said. “A tonne of surplus could make a company a hundred quid if sold for animal food or energy production – or it could feed 2,000 people. There are large multinationals who aren’t on our list [of main suppliers] that we want to work with: companies that are big enough so that a small percentage of their surplus could provide a very large number of meals.”

Graham Duncan, the director of St Mary’s Community Centre in Sheffield, which provides cut price meals, for low income people, made from food supplied by FareShare, said that the charity’s service was “absolutely vital”.

The big four supermarkets – Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – all provide food to FareShare. Sainsbury’s has been a main partner since the charity was founded in 1994 and said it had provided food equivalent to 3.2 million meals in the past two years.


About FareShare North West: 
FareShare is a national charity with franchises operating in 18 locations around the UK. EMERGE operates the North West franchise and is responsible for fundraising and developing relationships with suppliers and beneficiaries in the region. If you would like to know more about FareShare North West please contact Seb Serayet on 0161 223 8200 or