Helping Depot to reduce, reuse and recycle with Toucan Eco sustainable cleaning products

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About Depot cinema tech test

Depot is an award-winning independent three-screen cinema and café-restaurant, located in the centre of Lewes, East Sussex. It offers an innovative programme of mainstream, art house and independent films, world cinema, documentaries and classic films, along with special events, guest speakers and workshops. 

It is a not-for-profit organisation with Charitable Trust status, with a committed team of six trustees, 85 employees and 55 volunteers. Green Ambassador at Depot, Natasha Padbury, explained about the green credentials that were put in place from the get go. 

“This goes back to the renovation of the old depot site back in 2013. From the design stage we set out to be a sustainable venue, both socially and environmentally. This was very much in our DNA,” she said. 

“A big part of our remit was to be a flagship cultural venue, including design aspects such as renewable power sources, ground heat pumps and solar panels capturing energy on a living roof of downland wildflowers, which is a great green asset to help support biodiversity and pollinators.

“The rest of the energy that we don’t make ourselves is all from 100% renewable suppliers. We also have an A-rated energy performance certificate, helped by double and triple glazing, and natural ventilation across the building,” she added. 

Depot has a comprehensive sustainability policy and action plan, which includes sustainability being written into all managerial job descriptions, procurement guidelines, zero landfill policy and an extensive waste policy which sees 10 different waste streams now recycling 88% of their waste.

Depot at night

How to reduce plastic cleaning waste?

This led to the crux of the problem for Depot. Natasha explained: “We have a reduce, reuse and recycle policy. So, we reduce wherever we can, reuse what we can, and nearly anything that’s left that comes into the building we recycle.

“While auditing our waste streams we found that the janitorial category was where we were still bringing in significant amounts of plastic. And even though much of this was recycled, it was an area where I just couldn’t see how we were going to make the reductions that we needed to.

“That’s why I contacted HOME Manchester, who are pioneers in sustainability, and asked them how they were managing to meet their pledge of being single-use plastic free by 2020, and they introduced me to Toucan Eco.”

The greener way to clean

Toucan Eco lets you take tap water and normal salt and, using a special form of electrolysis called electrochemical activation, makes a multipurpose disinfectant cleaning solution virtually on tap. 

The devices, which are available in a range of sizes depending on your business or domestic needs, makes a solution which is certified to EN antiviral and antibacterial tests to wipe out more than 99.99% of germs. 

Its active compounds are hypochlorous acid (HOCl), which is also made by your immune system to fight infection, along with a very low concentration of sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), producing a gentle pH of around 8. This creates a powerful, eco-friendly and safe solution that you make yourself onsite, reducing the need for over 80% of synthetic chemical cleaners and the single-use plastic bottles they are supplied in.

Based on the size of Depot, they chose the Toucan Eco Active model, which makes 10 litres of hypochlorous disinfectant in just fifteen minutes. The solution can be used to spray, wipe or mop any surface, and when you run out you simply make some more.

Depot & Toucan Eco

How is Depot using Toucan Eco?

Natasha explains: “Toucan Eco is now being used across every single team working at Depot, even more so during the pandemic. It’s used as a surface cleaner, for all the tables our customers eat at, and to clean floors, glass panels, kitchen and bathrooms. The only cleaning products we’re still using is a degreaser and descaler, but we knew that would be the case.

“It’s used by our three dedicated cleaners, but also the 50 staff who work in our bar, restaurant and kitchen, in our offices to wipe down the hot desks, and also the box office team – so all 85 staff here now use it as cleaning and disinfecting has never been so important. 

“Feedback is that all the staff love the fact that it doesn’t contain any synthetic chemicals, that it’s not harsh or smelly. They feel really safe using it and much prefer it to previous chemical cleaners.”

A sustainable technology that saves money

For Depot, while the driver is to reduce plastic waste, it’s also about building a sustainable organisation and so the fact that they can do this while saving money is a real bonus.

“In terms of savings, the cost of purchasing Toucan Eco will have paid for itself in less than 18 months,” continued Natasha. “Plus, while the previous chemicals did come with environmental credentials, we’re no longer washing any chemicals down the drain, and the fact we’re not polluting the local waterways is really important to us.

“Depot is now saving around £1,500 a year. That’s also about 300 single-use plastic bottles that’s no longer going to waste recycling streams. The money savings of having this in place during a pandemic is a godsend as everyone is spending a fortune on antiviral and sanitising products. And we’re not having to spend anything additional to keep our premises clean and germ free,” Natasha added. 

Depot has been recently awarded the Highest Achievement for Commitment prize at the national Creative Green Awards 2020 that recognises cultural organisations for embedding sustainability.

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