15 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Easy ways to improve your environmental impact

Reducing the environmental impact in a garage can feel like a challenging task, but there are many areas of the business where you can make a difference and your choice of cleaning wipes is one, often overlooked, area.
By their very nature garage workshops can be dirty and greasy environments with oils, fluids and solvents used, meaning leaks and spills are a regular occurrence.  Garages typically use single use wipes or disposable blue paper roll to mop-up such spills and to clean parts as they are disassembled, repaired and refitted.  Like the use of any disposable product, it is inherently wasteful and this practice has a significant environmental impact.

Cleaning up and the environmental impact
A study by the climate-neutral consulting firm, ClimatePartner has shown the enormous ecological footprint of disposable cleaning cloths compared to reusable textile cloths.  It compared our Mewatex wipe with a 100% cellulose paper towel and a non-woven cloth made of 70% cellulose and 30% polypropylene.
The study looked at water and energy consumption, as well as CO2 emissions during the manufacture and use of both types of wipes. The results showed significant differences, up to 40 times more, in the resources used to remove 1kg of dirt. Among the results it was found that the total amount of water consumed when using a 100% disposable paper towel is 188,500 litres, compared to just 4,538 litres for the reusable wipe.  The energy consumption during production was also clearly contrasting; The reusable cloth consumes nearly three times less energy than a disposable cloth with 87 kWh compared to 31 kWh for a reusable cloth. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions generated, disposable wipes cause between 2.8 and 5 times more pollution than reusable cloths: 33.3 and 61.6 kg of CO2 compared to 11.9 kg of CO2.
Also striking was the difference in the amount of textile needed to make the cloths. The amount of textile used in a disposable paper-based cloth is 25.5 kg compared to just 0.5 kg for a Mewa cloth that has a cleaning life of up to 50 applications. Paper roll and single use wipes aren’t really all that efficient at absorbing liquids.  Furthermore, any cleaning cloths and paper wipes soaked with oil and other industrial fluids are potentially classified as ‘absolute hazardous’ entries on the Waste Framework Directive’s List of Waste document. They therefore must be safely stored before being disposed of by an accredited hazardous wastes contractor.
Instead of this traditional approach, many industrial workplaces are contracting third-party suppliers to deliver high-quality re-usable wipes.  Once soiled, these products are then collected, laundered in an environmentally friendly way and returned for re-use.
This also eliminates the need to manage the purchase, delivery, storage and disposal of single-use materials, not to mention all the wasteful packaging these come in.  The service also removes the significant burden of hazardous waste storage and disposal from companies, reducing costs as well as mitigating potential health and safety fines.

Environmental benefits
In additional to the conservation of resources and emissions, there are other environmental benefits of using such a service. Because of their reusability, we estimate that the use of our wipes by our customers prevents thousands of tonnes of industrial waste from being created.
Increasingly customers, investors and employees want to do business with and work for greener companies and when two-thirds of the average company’s environmental, social, and governance footprint lies with suppliers, it makes sense to work with partners who can help you be greener.