24 June 2019 - Industrial cleaning is seldom associated with sustainability, but greener methods do exist and are gaining traction among large manufacturers in Singapore, including petrochemical and pharmaceutical facilities. Cleaning is a function that commonly remains out of sight and out of mind, and this is doubly the case for industrial cleaning—the cleaning of factory premises and equipment.As a result, few people realise how much waste industrial cleaning generates, or how potentially hazardous that waste can be.However, Huang Wen Jia, the general manager of local industrial cleaning firm Cuestar Industry, says: “Plant owners are increasingly interested in how they can embrace environmentally friendly initiatives.”
The Singapore SME is located close to Jurong Island, where a number of its pharmaceutical and mechanical contracting clients are based. About 10 per cent of Cuestar’s chemicals are certified as environmentally friendly, a number the company is keen to grow.“We have always tried to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and bring in greener and more environmentally friendly chemicals,” says Huang.Are companies open to greener cleaning methods?
In comparison, dry ice blasting reduces the resulting amount of waste and provides savings on waste disposal costs, says Huang. The time savings are also considerable: in jobs that would take up to three days with chemical cleaning, dry ice blasting takes less than one. Overall, the total cost savings from the dry ice method add up to as much as 20 per cent, and it was this number that convinced her clients.“Our clients do recognise the savings on the waste,” she says. “In the past, when we first brought up the dry ice method to them, they were not so receptive as they worried that the procedure is more expensive than other methods. But once waste disposal is factored in, the cost becomes more acceptable.”Today, some of Cuestar’s clients on Jurong Island use the dry ice method for routine cleaning of their equipment, and others have indicated that they are comfortable with using it for ad hoc cleaning jobs.Practicality still a key driving factor
This is not to say that plant owners have rushed to embrace greener solutions. Cuestar’s clients value the method firstly because it is applicable to certain sensitive jobs, secondly for its speed and reduced waste generation.