The Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) predicts "extraordinary" demand for cleaning supplies in the foreseeable future.
The demand for cleaning supplies is “extraordinary” and will remain so “for the foreseeable future”, according to the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA).
The CHSA said its members are doing their best to source raw materials but that demand was set to continue as lockdown lifts and more businesses look to enact a strict hygiene routine – demand will be greater because Covid-19 is still in the population.
Lorcan Mekitarian, chair of the CHSA and sales director at plastics and rubber firm Berry BPI, told Facilitate that his company has been “working to 120 to 130 per cent of our capacity since February to keep up with demand”.
“We do clinical waste bags for the NHS. So, of course, in all of this panic there’s been a huge, huge usage of clinical waste bags so we’ve been throwing everything at it to keep up with demand.”
Mekitarian added that there were problems with availability of hand sanitisers because “the alcohol comes from the brewing industry and as we’re drinking more on lockdown, there’s less available for hand sanitisers and there are better margins on alcohol”.
There could also certainly be long-term shortages of nitrile gloves and cleaning chemicals. “There’s only a finite amount of these active ingredients in the world at any one point in time, and as the industry comes back to work we think there’s going to be new huge hygiene requirements in factories, which will use of a lot of chemicals.”
In early June the CHSA wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) requesting it to investigate possible profiteering by unscrupulous organisations capitalising on the exceptional call for cleaning and hygiene products.
“As we’re drinking more on lockdown, there’s less [ALCOHOL] for hand sanitisers”
The CHSA wants the inquiry to examine particularly the delisting of reputable companies by online trading platforms in favour of organisations charging exceptionally high prices.
The body had already alerted its members to rogue operators in May.
Mekitarian explained: “It seems very clear [that] unscrupulous organisations are profiteering on the extraordinary demands for cleaning products like hard surface sanitiser, hand sanitiser, wipes, gloves, masks, aprons and sacks. With very high prices, they are ripping off buyers of these products.
“It also appears online trading platforms may be giving these organisations preferential listings. If this proves to be the case, it needs to be stopped.
“In contrast, our members are trading ethically, working hard to meet demand with reasonably priced product compliant with industry standards.”
Members of the CHSA must sign the CHSA’s rigorous code of practice, which requires them to be ‘well established’ in the cleaning and hygiene industry and to maintain a high standard in the conduct of its business.
Where applicable, they are also members of its Accreditation Schemes for Distributors and Manufacturers of Soft Tissue, Plastic Refuse Sacks and Industrial Cotton Mops. These guarantee ‘what’s in the box is what’s on the box’.
Compliance with the CHSA’s accreditation schemes and code of practice is guaranteed by an auditing process conducted by an independent inspector.
Yorkshire-based hygiene specialist Elliott Hygiene has been experiencing these demands over the past few months. The firm provides products to those on the front line, including food manufacturers and other key industries, care providers and Hull City Council. Like others, the firm has been concerned about how to meet demand as lockdown starts to lift.
It has access to much-sought after protective masks, visors, aprons, hand sanitisers and fully compliant disinfectant cleaning products, tested to EN14476 and EN1276 standards, as well as high-strength viricidal cleaners. It said it now has these items in sufficient quantities to help firms to get back to business and service providers like care homes, local authorities and schools to be able to carry out essential work safely.
Co-director Janette Elliott said: “I won’t deny it’s been tough. Stocks of essential supplies like this basically dried up early in the pandemic because the government had to procure all protective equipment that was in production at the time and divert it to our NHS.
“But we’ve managed to keep loyal customers supplied throughout and have also been working on sourcing plenty to help the many more organisations that are going to need it in the weeks ahead.
“As well as being an independent family-owned business, we’re also established members of the Socius supply network, which gives us a combined approach and buying power and access to not only source essential kit, but also ensure it is of the right standard.”
These long-standing relationships mean that Elliott’s has secured a pipeline for about two million pieces of PPE, and is now reaching out to firms struggling to know what to do, to offer them expert help.
Elliott’s also regularly carries out reviews of premises to recommend “a strategic approach to hygiene management which ensures its clients meet the highest possible standards at any time, and proves extra-valuable in a pandemic situation like the current one”. Elliott said she was “acutely conscious” that the pandemic has led to some unscrupulous practices, like firms selling things such as hand sanitiser and protective equipment that isn’t of a high enough standard, and at an inflated price. This was a real danger, she warned.
“There will also be lots of people offering to carry out risk assessments for organisations at very high rates, which they will pay because they are frightened of falling foul of the law.”
Cleaning sector advice
The CHSA is advising buyers of cleaning and hygiene products to:
1 Be sceptical about product claims
It if sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask for evidence to back up the claims, obtain CE declaration and or any test reports to show conformance to specification.
2 Buy from a reputable supplier
CHSA members have all signed the association’s code of practice, which requires members to be “‘well established’ in the cleaning and hygiene industry and to maintain a “high standard in the conduct of its business”. Look for the CHSA logo and accreditation scheme stamp.