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The new office building Hofdatorg in Reykavíck, Iceland. ©City of Reykavíck

Reykjavík reduces harms from cleaning products through Green Procurement

January 08, 2013

Chemicals in cleaning products pose harm to human health and the environment. To address this long standing public concern, the government of Reykjavík – Iceland’s capital and largest city, launched the Green Cleaning Program in 2009 to promote the purchasing of eco-friendly chemical cleaners through public procurement.

Ecolabeling – now a key prerequisite for public procurement on cleaning services in Reykjavík, did not only facilitate a boom in the application for ecolabled products – products that comply with the ISO 14001 management system, are Nordic Swan eco-labeled, or fulfill comparable criteria, but has also led to a substantial increase in the market share for ecolbeled cleaning services from less than 10 to 50 percent.

The program also witnessed considerable success in cutting public costs and chemical consumption. Within two years, the proportion of green cleaning services purchased by the city increased drastically from almost nothing to 74 percent in 2011, cleaning costs were halved, and the level of chemical consumption by new office building has dropped by 65 percent. Employees also showed greater satisfaction in working in a cleaner and healthier environment.

The initial success of the two pilot projects involving new city office building (10,218m² floor area) and 63 kindergartens (30,353m² floor area) encourage the start of a wider program in the city of Reykjavík. It is expected that the city can achieve the goal of 100 percent green cleaning service by 2013.

As part of Iceland’s National Action Plan on green procurement and international strategies, the Green Cleaning Program demonstrates how green public procurement can help promote a resource efficient and low-carbon economy without incurring additional financial or ecological costs.

Read the full ICLEI case study for more information on how you could apply some of these ideas in your city.