When Nottingham-based restaurant Alchemilla opened its doors in August 2017 to critical acclaim, head chef and proprietor Alex Bond set out to do things differently with a clear focus on creating a sustainable operation strategy for his business.
When looking at cleaning and maintenance, Bond was keen to find a system that would reduce the use of chemical products across the board. “It makes very good business sense for a restaurant,” he said. “Cleaning chemicals are one of the only products which come in through the back door, that can’t be sold out of the front door - there’s no profit to be made so it’s sensible that we try and reduce our usage where we can.”
Alex Bond was introduced to Robert Scott’s Toucan Eco disinfecting and cleaning system which has been developed to offer customers a product that significantly reduces the use of traditional cleaning chemicals, while also providing a cost-effective and more environmentally sustainable cleaning alternative by drastically reducing the plastic waste produced by chemical containers and packaging.
The Toucan Eco system uses electrochemical activation (ECA) technology – a cost-effective, money-saving and environmentally-friendly disinfectant and cleaning alternative to synthetic chemicals currently on the market. It has only two components - water (straight from the tap) and table salt (sodium chloride), which is dissolved in the water. The components are activated using a form of electrolysis whereby a small electrical current is applied to the solution using a specialised electrolysis cell. This produces hypochlorous acid, which is a powerful and safe disinfectant, and sodium hypochlorite solution, an effective cleaning agent. Together, they create a powerful, naturally-occurring disinfectant, cleaner and sanitiser that’s safe, non-toxic, non-allergenic, environmentally friendly and low cost.
The 3500 sq ft, 60-cover, restaurant installed the Toucan Eco cleaning system in January 2018 and now uses it to clean all areas of the front of house including table tops, glassware, windows and mirrors, fridges, furniture, and restroom facilities. In the kitchen, the system is also used to clean benches and worktops, and while chemical degreasers are still required on areas such as ovens, floors and the extraction canopy, Bond has seen an average total saving of £200 per month on the cost of chemical cleaning agents, as well as a huge saving on the volume of plastic waste.
For the front of house areas, the product is applied with microfibre cloths while centrefeed is used in the kitchens and food preparation areas where it must be disposable to comply with health and safety regulations.
Alex Bond continued: “We had the confidence to try a new product and we were well aware of the benefits the Toucan Eco system offered. One of the best results we’ve seen is on our glassware, windows and any reflective surfaces as the finish is entirely streak-free and spotless. The approach of the cleaning system married with our intentions for the restaurant, so installing a more environmentally sound, cost-effective alternative made complete sense from the start. The staff have found the system easy to use and incredibly timesaving, which always helps at the end of a long shift. The results have exceeded our expectations and knowing we’re using considerably less chemical product and further reducing our plastic waste output is exactly what we set out to achieve.”
Steve Courtney, business development director at Robert Scott, said: “The results we’ve seen at Alchemilla are extremely positive for Alex and his team, and more widely as an encouraging example for the hospitality industry. There has been a reduction in the use of man-made synthetic chemicals in the restaurant, which has proven beneficial for the health and safety of both staff and customers. There’s also been a reduction in the volume of chemical and plastic waste and packaging which is of huge benefit. Alchemilla is thinking responsibly - thinking about its people and the wider environment. It’s no secret that our industry is experiencing a green revolution, with new products and materials coming to market designed to reduce plastic waste and lessen the impact on the environment. We also need to address the public’s growing concerns around the use of harsh chemicals in cleaning, which will only increase as more long-term, evidence-based research into the effects of chemical use come to light as we’ve seen recently.”
Alchemilla has installed the Toucan Eco Active system, which is ideal for small to medium-sized facilities. One single activation will produce 10 litres of disinfectant and cleaning solution equivalent of around 16 x 600ml spray bottles. The system includes a generator, 10 litre tank, brine salt dispenser, discharge tap, and shelf.