UWC Atlantic is the founding and flagship College in the UWC movement, located in 12th Century St Donat’s Castle in South Wales. Championing the UWC mission 'to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future', sustainability has always been part of the College's DNA.
In addition, one of the core UWC values 'respect for the environment' has been a key driver in exploring a chemical-free cleaning regime. It hasn't just been about improving the College's green credentials, more about showcasing what a real commitment to sustainability looks like in the day-to-day life of the College.
In May 2019, after a wide-ranging consultation with students, staff and their supplier, UWC Atlantic took the decision to transform its cleaning regime by installing a completely chemical-free system across the 122-acre campus – Robert Scott’s Toucan Eco bio-cleaning range.
The installation means the College can make a sustainable, effective and non-chemical disinfectant and cleaning solution on-site, which removes the need for 80% of chemical products, while significantly reducing single-use plastic waste and creating cost efficiencies over time.
Alan Fleming, director of facilities and operations for UWC Atlantic, explained: “The College takes a challenging and interactive approach to learning that inspires and equips students to work towards a more sustainable future.
“Learning revolves around increasing students’ understanding of global challenges – environmental issues are high on the agenda – and developing a vision of how we can adopt alternative approaches to living. As well as introducing a student Sustainability Council, we have also implemented ways to offset our carbon footprint, reduce water consumption and transition to using more green energy.
“We have three recycling areas across the campus, including compost sites, which we use to naturally fertilise the fruit and vegetables we grow in our polytunnels. We are also looking into a sustainable seaweed farm and, as part of our long-term strategy, we hope to install heat source pumps to harness green energy from natural sources in the ground and in the air.
“As part of this strategy we’ve been exploring chemical-free cleaning for some time and hadn’t found a solution that met the specific needs of the UWC Atlantic campus and its facilities. Jonathan Thiel, the College’s on-site manager from the Compass Group, made a recommendation that we consider Robert Scott’s innovative new bio-cleaning system – Toucan Eco – and so we invited the team to campus for a demonstration of the technology.”
Steve Courtney, Toucan Eco product specialist at Robert Scott, continued: “From our first meeting with the College’s management team, it was clear they were looking for a solution that would align with their sustainability ethos as a main priority. Understanding their approach to education helped us to highlight the specific benefits of the system that would be most valuable to the College.
“For example, while the multi-surface disinfectant and cleaner kills up to 99.999% of bacteria and is certified as a general disinfectant – it’s also non-toxic, non-hazardous and non-allergenic, so it is safe for staff to use on a daily basis in the majority of areas across campus. This also appealed to the management team as it meant students can use the solution to spray, wipe or mop their dormitory areas, giving them the responsibility of keeping their personal space clean and tidy, while helping to prepare them for the next stage of independence at university and beyond.”
After an extremely positive trial period, UWC Atlantic proceeded with the installation of 13 Toucan Eco Active units, each with a 10-litre capacity, along with a range of new microfibre cleaning products which are most effective for using with the solution. The units have been installed across the College’s residential quarters, study rooms, sports facilities and other areas of public footfall. This has allowed UWC Atlantic to reduce its overall use of chemicals across the campus and will create tangible cost efficiencies over time.
Jonathan Thiel, Compass Group’s general manager at UWC Atlantic added: “For the team, Toucan Eco was the next logical step in order to reduce our environmental impact. Not only have we drastically cut the use of harmful chemical cleaning agents, we’re also making considerable reductions on single-use plastic waste and the unnecessary transportation of cleaning fluids.
“Early feedback from staff has been very positive in terms of both the cleaning results the product delivers and also the fact that it’s completely safe and harmless for the user – in this instance both the cleaners and students. We will continue to use the solution across the campus and are in discussions about introducing it into our dining areas as a multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant.”
Steve continues: “Seeing the impact that Toucan Eco has had on UWC Atlantic in this short space of time is hugely encouraging and exactly why, as a business, we feel so passionately about the system. The fact that we have been able to almost eradicate the use of potentially harmful chemicals in an extensive education setting and equipped the students with a cleaning system they’re able to use themselves, is a real win-win for all and will further enhance the College’s sustainable credentials.”
UWC Atlantic now has the Toucan Eco Active system installed across the site and is using the solution to clean the majority of facilities on campus.
How does the Toucan Eco system work?
Robert Scott’s Toucan Eco system requires only tap water, salt and a low voltage electrical current to produce limitless disinfecting and cleaning solution through a process called electrochemical activation.
The technology first appeared as a chemical-free disinfectant in industrial applications in the 1970s. With developments in technology, new smaller and more portable devices have been designed that allow the solution to be made on demand and on-site. Different models are available to suit virtually any application and because you make it yourself, you’ll never run out.
The applications are endless. And it’s now being used by the cleaning industry in a growing number of workplace and domestic applications as the eco-friendly way to clean without the use of chemicals or excess plastic waste.