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Office Buildings Environmentally Preferable Cleaning Project

Project Details

Year: 2000
Location: Boston
Project Manager: Craig Olsen
Partners: Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA),State Operational Services Division, Office of Technical Assistance, and Department of Environmental Protection. Overview

Hazardous janitorial products have been found to cause occupational health and environmental problems. Increasing the use of environmentally preferable janitorial cleaning products can be a cost-effective method for achieving environmental goals while protecting worker and occupational health.

The Environmentally Preferable Cleaners Project was developed by WasteCap of Massachusetts, Inc. to introduce cleaning companies to the benefits of environmentally preferable janitorial products, including:

  • Reduced air pollution (creating better indoor air quality in the office)
  • Protecting the natural environment through the use of less toxic formulas, (a good example of this are cleaners which can be disposed of through the drain)
  • Protecting worker's health by reducing the exposure of harmful chemicals through handling.

The idea behind WasteCap's project was to endorse the use of environmentally preferable cleaning products by finding janitorial companies willing to substitute their current cleaning products with the environmentally preferable products free of charge for one month. At the end of the trial period, cleaning company representatives were asked to fill out a product performance and purchasing habits feedback form to help WasteCap gain insight on ways to better endorse environmentally preferable cleaners.

Project Objectives
  1. Gather information on purchasing practices of major cleaning companies.
  2. Develop evaluation criteria from survey results.
  3. Test products that have passed green criteria.
  4. Write Case Study.

WasteCap distributed pamphlets outlining high-risk chemicals and supplying Web pages with more information. Bringing together the EPP product suppliers and the janitorial company executives contributed to making both parties more aware of issues and barriers to choosing alternatives.

All three janitorial companies that WasteCap worked with stated that before the project, they had a lack of general knowledge of environmentally preferable cleaners or the EPP products were never properly presented to them.

As a result of the test period, Commonwealth Maintenance Systems will be switching some of its accounts to using the H2Orange2 TM all-purpose cleaner distributed by Symplex. The company will not be changing all of its accounts because of the cost of replacing all of the dispensing equipment (the machine used to dilute the all-purpose cleaner concentrate) that was purchased for the old cleaning product would be too high. Alliance Service Corporation is still undecided. Alliance will use the remainder of the product from the pilot testing to do its own 4-month in-house testing to determine the product's long-term effectiveness. The results from this test will influence its final decision. Eastern Building Services has decided not to switch to the EPP cleaner that it has tested. The Quality Assurance manager from Eastern stated that it was "due to contracting issues and good relationship with current supplier."


An environmentally preferable product (EPP) is defined as a product that has a reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products that serve the same purpose.

WasteCap of Massachusetts, Inc. WasteCap of Massachusetts, founded in 1994, is a nonprofit environmental organization that works with the Massachusetts business community on voluntarily recycling, buying recycled content products, and source reduction issues.

Beyond TURN

WasteCap decided to emphasize the promotion of environmentally preferable products to help Massachusetts businesses become more environmentally sound. Because of WasteCap's emphasis on assisting state businesses in their efforts to improve the environment, we feel that promoting environmentally preferable products goes hand in hand with issues such as source reduction and recycling.

WasteCap refocused its efforts to not only educate businesses on environmental issues, but also to engage in projects such as this that produce positive and measurable results. The Toxics Use Reduction Networking grant offered by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute has helped us by providing funding and resources needed to implement one of our first projects dealing with the promotion of EPPs to Massachusetts businesses.

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute continues to promote safer cleaners throughout its work with communities. Our Surface Cleaning Laboratory is involved in testing of alternative cleaners for viability and has worked with schools and hotels.

This page updated Wednesday November 02 2011