'On my left, in the red corner: Super concentrates! On my right, in blue, Ready to use chemicals!'
Round 1: Ease of use
Ready to use gets off to a good start, demonstrating a strong jab. Trigger sprayers are ready to go straight out of the box, no time spent diluting and no potential for wrong dilutions. Concentrates are struggling to get any shots in at all.
Round 2: Transport and storage
Concentrates start to make a fight of it! They are clearly lighter, smaller and therefore easier to transport and store. Ready to use tries to respond with being less hazardous to transport, but Concentrate parries well. The judges give the round to super concentrates.
Round 3: Environmental impact
Ready to use starts the third round sharply, with a solid right hook. The chemicals are much milder so have less environmental impact if they are accidentally released. However, Super concentrate counter attacks hard – they use far less plastic packaging. Then the well-timed uppercut! The much lower transport carbon footprint, as one bottle of concentrate is equivalent to up to 100 sprayers. Ready to use is clearly shaken.
Round 4: Cost efficiency
The better stamina and reach of super concentrates is starting to show here, and ready to use is getting tired. Concentrates hits hard with a strong overhand – a one litre bottle replaces up to 100 trigger sprayers and costs far less. Ready to use tries to block with a tiring right hand, claiming that users may sometimes use more doses than they should, wasting product and money, but they’re taking a pummelling here and the coach throws in the towel! It’s over!
The referee congratulates both on a fair fight, and raises the hand of super concentrates. It was a tough battle but ultimately, the stronger opponent won convincingly.
Ease of use:
Using concentrates does add one extra process. It may take operatives 30 seconds to a minute to fill up a trigger bottle before they start using it. It does make it less likely for them to run out of the product though, as one concentrate bottle on the shelf will provide 100 trigger sprayers, while obviously taking up far less storage space. For products that would need to be diluted anyway, such as floor cleaners, it makes the process slightly easier by ensuring the correct dose without having to use any other equipment.
Transport and storage:
There's no need to debate here. It's plain to see how much more storage space a box of trigger sprays or a 5 litre bottle of floor cleaner takes, compared to a single 1 litre bottle that needs replacing far less often. Concentrates are likely to reduce chemical storage space requirements by 60-90%. Plus, you don't have to re-order so often and there's less bottles to carry around.
This is the debate you're likely to see go on longest. There's points on both sides that need evaluating. To start with, there is the concern that super concentrates in their undiluted state are very strong, harsh chemicals. However, they are almost always diluted to the same strength ready to use would be before being released into waste water management systems, and eventually the environment, so the only time they could do more damage to the environment is in the event of a bulk spillage, which is very uncommon.
The points in favour of concentrates are transport and packaging. disposable triggers are one of the biggest sources of plastic waste in the cleaning industry, and although re-usable triggers occasionally break, and the concentrate bottles have to be disposed of, it reduces plastic waste by at least 85%, doing massive favours for cleaning contractors' CSR image. Also, less bulk and weight of goods to transport means the carbon footprint of the chemical, from manufacturing to delivery to site, is 50-70% lower.
Many chemicals are advertised as eco-friendly because they contain a very mild product. However, as they are supplied in a more diluted state, it means far more has to be used, so much more packaging and transport is required. Yes, in their original state they are a less harmful substance, but they have a far higher carbon footprint and produce times more plastic waste.
It varies a little from product to product, but our concentrate chemicals cost between 5 and 8% of what an equivalent number of trigger sprayers would. Even if trigger bottles are frequently discarded, the system is still unlikely to cost more than 30-40% of the cost of ready to use. Compared to 5 litre concentrate chemicals, super concentrates are likely to bring a saving of 40-50%. The reason for this is the vastly reduced packaging requirement and transport costs, which make up most of the cost of filling a chemical bottle and getting it to its destination. There may be some costs in implementation, with the time taken to train staff, but these are outweighed by the savings in use.