Cleaning Supplies


Keeping safe and sanitised doesn’t have to mean
sacrificing on sustainability

Over the past year, hand sanitisers and cleaning wipes have been essential to maintaining good hygiene practices and helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, shortages in the supply of alcohol, sustainability concerns and inclusivity issues have meant that Lyreco and its supplier BioHygiene needed to come up with an alternative to help an energy provider keep its UK workforce safe on site and uphold its sustainability values.

In a time where hand sanitising has become a vital part of keeping safe, the provision of anti-bacterial and anti-viral products for employees has been essential to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 and other illnesses.

However, choosing a sanitiser that meets the complex needs of an entire workforce was not as straightforward as first thought.

Due to a surge in demand, alcohol used in these products has been in short supply. Moreover, random breathalyser tests needed for onsite safety can return false positive results, as the breathalysers can detect the alcohol residue from users’ hands.

As an employer committed to supporting inclusivity in the workplace, the energy provider was also keen to ensure that employees who do not wish to interact with alcohol would feel comfortable with using the sanitisers.

It was therefore crucial for Lyreco, which supplies the company with hand sanitiser, to find an alternative. Not only would this help to keep their staff safe, but it was also vital to maintain operations at their power generation sites.

A green supply chain

To solve the energy supplier’s conundrum, Lyreco teamed up with BioHygiene, a UK-based manufacturer of biotech cleaning products.

BioHygiene has spent the last five years developing and delivering cleaning products made from a blend of naturally derived materials, sourced from plant extracts, fermentation and manufacturing by-products.

The biotech company employs technologies that are renewable and sustainable, reducing CO2 and environmental toxicity to better protect people and planet. As such, it aligned perfectly with Lyreco’s circular economy and its drive to provide customers with increased sustainable options.

Instead of using traditional non-renewable chemical products in its hand sanitisers that irritate sensitive skin and result in the issues highlighted by the energy company, BioHygiene’s foam hand sanitiser uses a compound with no ammonium, quats, chlorine, aldehydes or alcohol – lactic acid.

Because lactic acid is a by-product of anaerobic respiration, it absorbs carbon dioxide during the production process instead of emitting this greenhouse gas.

By sourcing lactic acid for manufacturing its foam hand sanitiser, BioHygiene has calculated that 70 tonnes of CO2 have been saved so far across this organic compound’s lifecycle for Lyreco’s client. Furthermore, the by-products from the production of lactic acid can be sold on to agricultural businesses as a soil conditioner, contributing to the circular economy for a more sustainable future.

Next steps

As this hygiene solution contains no alcohol, is gentler for sensitive skin and is HALAL approved by the Halal Monitoring Committee. Workers can also be safe in the knowledge that BioHygiene’s foam will not trigger incorrect readings on a breathalyser, clash with users’ beliefs or values, or damage their hands.

On an operational level, the product has made life easier for the energy company on their industrial sites; because the foam doesn’t contain alcohol, it is non-flammable therefore does not require special storage.

The company can also be assured that supplies of the foam are unlikely to run out in case of sudden surges in demand, as BioHygiene currently has capacity to make 20 million litres of the sanitiser.

But the quest for a way to clean without water, in an environmentally and dermatologically friendly way, doesn’t stop there.

BioHygiene has set its sights on extending its offer of ‘instant’ cleaning products made from biotech solutions. The manufacturer is planning to create cleaning wipes for desks and laptops which Lyreco can then offer to customers.

Currently, some of the disposable wipes available on the market cause a lot of damage to the environment. They are not biodegradable, the packaging cannot be recycled, and the chemicals used to make them anti-bacterial/anti-viral have high aquatic toxicity. These chemicals often resist breakdown and accumulate to kill aquatic life. 

For Lyreco and BioHygiene, the mission to constantly reduce harmful emissions and operate as sustainably as possible is as important as ever.  This means moving to a product that is still disposable, but biodegradable and made from greener ingredients.

The partnership between Lyreco and BioHygiene looks set to deliver more innovations in workplace hygiene. This is an exciting time for those companies that care about the environment and the wellbeing of end-users.

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