Biological cleaning solutions gain ground in South Africa

30th August 2013 By: Chantelle Kotze

The use of biological cleaning products has been increasing in South Africa in the last ten years as more users are becoming aware of the environmental impact of traditional chemical cleaners and, thus, are demanding greener alternatives, says biological cleaning solutions provider Green Worx Cleaning Solutions technical manager Donavin Hawker.

The growth of biological cleaning products in South Africa, which originated in the US and Europe, mirrors the global trend towards using sustainable cleaning solutions that are safe for people and the environment and offer the same, if not superior, cleaning results to traditional chemical cleaning products, he tells Engineering News.

Enzymes have been used for decades in household detergents and industrial cleaners, mainly for protein stain removal, but are currently used more frequently in cleaning-in-place applications and ultrafiltration membrane cleaning products, as well as in surgical instrument cleaners, says Hawker.

“Enzymes are also being included in manual dishwashing liquids,” he notes.

Biological cleaning products, Hawker explains, do not only clean surfaces, but the bacterial cultures contained in these products also break down contaminants on a microscopic level and continue to work long after the chemical products have been removed through rinsing the surface.

The way in which biological cleaning solu- tions work depends on the microbes or enzymes used in the cleaning formulation, as the microbes produce enzymes on site, depending on the contaminant present.

“The enzymes that are produced when applied are highly specific in their action and will act only on specific substrates, such as proteins, fats or grease, cellulose, starch and petrochemicals,” says Hawker.

He highlights that the bacteria used to clean continue to multiply as long as there is a food source.

Further, as enzymes are catalytic in nature, it is possible to produce an exceptional cleaning solution with relatively small additions of enzymes or biologicals in a cleaning formulation.

Hawker says, depending on the stains prevalent, biological-based cleaners are ideal for cleaning large-scale industrial settings, especially organic waste and food-based or petrochemical stains.

“For food contact areas, it is actually highly recommended to use enzymatic products, as they are naturally produced and generally harmless during general use and in the event of accidental spillages,” he emphasises.

Biological-based products are also suited to effluent treatment areas, such as fat and grease traps and septic tanks, besides others.

Many contract cleaners and building managers are also committed users of enzymes and bacterial solutions for toilet and washroom cleaning. In the holiday, leisure and healthcare markets, enzymes are rapidly gaining ground for general and tough cleaning, sanitising and even viral control.

Before choosing or designing a product intended for a specific type of cleaning, Hawker notes, it is advisable to consider the type of stains to be removed, the cleaning time required, the measure of the acidity or basicity (pH level) and the temperature in which the cleaning product needs to operate.

One of the benefits when opting for biological-based cleaning solutions instead of chemical-based cleaning solutions is that enzymatic and biological products are highly efficient in cleaning applications at low dosages and at mild temperatures and pH levels.

Biological cleaning solutions are also highly specific in the substrate being targeted, which enables the targeting of specific cleaning applications, such as proteins on ultrafiltration membranes.

Enzymatic products are also sustainable and renewable and can be used without fear of injury to the person cleaning, or damage to the construction material of the machinery or building being cleaned.

Hawker has noticed a global trend towards the inclusion of a larger variety of enzyme types in cleaning solutions and the use of enzymes in greater concentrations, which will enable reduced surfactant use in the formulation.

New applications for biological cleaning solutions are also being sought, he adds.

While markets in the US and Europe are saturated with biological cleaning products, there is still significant opportunity for biological and enzymatic products in the South African cleaning sector.

Having sold 165 000 kg of biological cleaning products in the past year,
Green Worx Cleaning Solutions has registered good sales growth for biological and enzymatic cleaning products and expects further growth.

The company plans to develop its brand using business-to- business marketing and by empowering its customers through training. Green Worx Cleaning Solutions plans to gain exposure through trade publications, exhibitions and online advertising.

The company’s original product line, which includes products such as Microzyme D60, Odorite DC40 Concentrate and Odorite Advanced Grease Control Concentrate, was conceptualised seven years ago.

An additional seven products – the Odorite-branded Biocide, Deep Clean Ultra Concentrate, Ultra Dishwashing liquid, Ultra Liquid and Powder Laundry Detergents and Rim Block, as well as the P-Island Urinal Accessory and P-Island Bio Cubes – were subsequently developed over two years and launched onto the African market in April 2013, says Hawker.

Green Worx Cleaning Solutions’ newest product, the Odorite Surgical Instrument Detergent Enzyme Cleaner, was developed for market this year and will be launched this month.

The company’s short-term goal is to expand its local manufacturing capacity and its current product range in South Africa and the wider Southern African Development Community region, as well to develop new products in line with market needs, concludes Hawker.