Sustainability is a lot more than just a trendy term businesses use to look caring. In my opinion, too many companies make statements about being green but can’t back them up. This ‘greenwashing’ must stop. We need to strive to be greener. Changes need to be profound, not superficial, with real benefits for the planet.
When we started Cleankill Pest Control in 1995, it was in reaction to the working practices of previous employers. We wanted to do things differently. Our focus has always been on providing effective pest control with great customer service, but this had to be done with an eye on our impact on our communities and the environment.
Green pest control…an oxymoron?
There are those that would say a pest control company can’t be green because we are essentially employed to eliminate or disturb pests. I suppose, if you take a narrow view of pest control and being green, then there is some truth in that statement.
Personally, I think this is missing the point. Being practical and looking at the real world, I would say there is a lot we can all do to be greener, even in pest control. As a population, we must accept that public health pests such as rats do need to be controlled if we are to protect our communities. Controlling cockroaches and bed bugs requires the use of chemicals, and I’ve written many times about why they should only be used by trained professionals who know how to use them optimally. One of the advantages of restricting their use to professionals is that we use just the right about of pesticide which means no wastage.
Another solution is to bring back and adapt traditional pest control methods, such as falconry. These can be highly effective, as evidenced by the successes of our bird control team (view our YouTube videos) and the carbon footprint of this work is very low.
What else can we do?
These solutions are specific to pest control but there are things we do, that we all can do. One of our biggest successes has nothing to do with pesticides. In 2019 we decided to take a different approach to reporting and this, as has been evidenced by some statistics I’ve just received, has made massive changes to our carbon footprint.
At the end of the 2018/19 financial year, we took the decision to automate our reporting systems. For us, there was the problem that documents needed to be completed in the field during a survey or call out, and then the surveyor or technician had to return to the office and key in the same data. This was wasteful in terms of time and resources.
The challenge for us was that we need paperwork. Our industry is paper heavy because of the need for documents covering health, hygiene, due diligence and legislation. On top of this, there are quotes, reports, invoices, etc. and these must all be duplicated – one for the client and one for our records.
Apart from the waste and carbon footprint, there is also the fact this approach is time-consuming, and it is not always easy to read handwriting, especially once it begins to fade.
We decided to do something about this and began to work with a company that specialises in digital reporting. Within two weeks, all field surveyors and technicians were equipped with the right tools to capture critical business data. They now have at their disposal the full range of forms and documents on their tablets and everything works seamlessly, meaning less time in the office for field staff.
Given the number of documents that are processed in this way and the distances involved it is estimated we are annually saving:
- 74.665 tonnes of CO2
- 1,888,208 litres of water
- 188,821 pieces of A4
- 182,400 miles in travel
- 12,810 work hours
These are tangible, verifiable benefits and a real demonstration of successful sustainability practices.
This solution is not restricted to the pest control industry. It can benefit many companies, and the benefits a huge, including financially. It is estimated our return on investment is £32.60 for every pound.
The impact digital reporting has had on our business has been profound. Our technicians like it because they don’t have to sit doing paperwork in the office and our customers like it because they instantly get the documents they need, wherever they are in the world.
Being green is important to us. These aren’t just idle words; they are part of our founding mission. We are always looking for new ways to improve our service while being kinder to the environment and, when we find something that can be used by all companies, we like to pass it on.
Go to www.cleankill.co.uk for more information and email [email protected] for a free pest control survey or cost comparison.