Sustainability advantages of concentrated products
Buying and using concentrated cleaning products which are then diluted at the point of use has big potential sustainability benefits:
- Because the water is only added when needed, it doesn’t need to be packaged, stored or transported. The savings in packaging by refilling trigger sprays from concentrate, rather than throwing them away when empty, can be huge: a single 5 litre container of concentrate can save the plastic and the energy that goes into making around 500 typical 750ml trigger bottles, and then transporting over a third of a ton of water around the country.
- When buying concentrates for dilution, larger packs again save packaging. A 2 litre bottle uses only two thirds of the packaging per litre compared to a 1 litre bottle, and a 5 litre pack uses only about one third.
The more concentrated the product of course, the more vital it is to have good dilution control to avoid waste which is costly environmentally in terms of resource consumption as well as costly economically.
While the above advantages are clear, practical considerations and the economic and social dimensions of sustainability can sometimes cancel out these benefits, especially for small-scale cleaning, such that diluted ready-to-use products make the most sense. Cleaning operations need to be considered case by case. The table below lists some important factors which influence the overall sustainability of concentrates, with different approaches to dilution control, in social and economic as well as environmental terms. The five approaches compared are:
- Standard concentrate products diluted manually
- Ready-to-use products
- Super-concentrates with portion control – adding a known amount of product to a known amount of water
- Super-concentrates in dilution control – systems where the chemical and water is automatically mixed
- Super-concentrates in closed-loop, dilution control – as above but the user cannot gain access to the neat product