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27 November 2020

Welcome to this week’s Grapevine, the place to get your bitesize FM updates in one place, in a handy five-minute read.

Got a story for us? Please send news stories & press releases to:

FWC Nominated for Prestigious National Award

The Federation of Window Cleaners (FWC) has been nominated by one of its members for a prestigious, national award.

The FWC is in the running to win Best Membership Association in the National Association Awards (NAA), a category which is decided by public vote.

Members of the cleaning and hygiene industry are being encouraged to vote for the association before the 17 December deadline.

The NAA awards celebrate the hard work of associations, federations, chambers, societies and membership organisations across all sectors. Winners are expected to be announced on 22 April next year.

Andrew Lee, Chairman and Safety Officer of the FWC, said: “I am delighted that the federation has been nominated for this award, it is fantastic to get this kind of recognition.

“All credit to Beryl and the staff for all the hard work they do. They always do the best they can for our members. This shows that we are doing something right.”

Beryl Murray, General Secretary of the FWC, said: “We are delighted to receive recognition and appreciation in this special way from one of our long-standing valued members.  You really can’t get a better testimony than this.

“To be in with a chance we are asking people to vote for us before the deadline. Thank you in advance for your valued and supportive vote, which could help us gain this prestigious award.”

Kate Lawrence, a Director of Cleanbrite UK, made the nomination. She said: “The benefits of being a member of the FWC are significant and it is very good value compared to other associations.

“The website is excellent, you can access current tender opportunities, health and safety advice, people are selling things, it feels like there is a proper community.

“The customer service is top class. Whenever there is an issue, Beryl and the team go out of the way to help. Everyone is so nice.

“I really hope lots of people vote for the FWC and they win. They deserve it.”

You can vote for the FWC before 3 pm on 17 December via Only one vote per person will be counted.

Visible Cleaning Programmes are key to Consumer Confidence

Research from ABM UK shows businesses need to put their cleaning processes on centre stage. 

Once a service that was kept behind the scenes, cleaning in public spaces is now proving to be the key factor in regaining consumer confidence. This is especially relevant as the UK looks forward to lockdown restrictions lifting next week.   

Independent research commissioned by ABM UK has explored the perception of built environments with regards to the visibility of cleaners now, compared to life pre-COVID-19. It shows that the mere sight of disinfection happening in public spaces can go a long way to creating the confidence people need to feel safe and return to the site.   

Of the 1,000 research participants, 61 per cent said that seeing cleaners in public spaces makes them feel that safety measures are being taken seriously and nearly half agreed it reminds them to stay alert. A quarter of people said that visible cleaning instilled a sense of trust in the environment and 27 per cent agreed it made them feel safe.  

John McPherson, ABM UK Managing Director comments: “Crucially, 45 per cent of survey respondents agreed that the visibility of cleaning in progress would encourage them to return to a built environment, whether that’s an office space, shopping centre or airport.  

“COVID-19 represents a turning point for the facilities services industry. In the past, facilities services often went unnoticed, but it now has national awareness and represents a gateway for the UK to reopen and stay that way. 

“As we continually adapt to changing restrictions and navigate the winter season, businesses which want to instil confidence in their customers need to bring their cleaning and disinfection practices out for the public to see. It's about going beyond the hand sanitising stations and the two-metre markers; the conscious consumer wants to see proof of cleaners in action.”  

The research is part of ABM UK’s ongoing efforts to ensure it can provide world-class advice and services to customers navigating the pandemic. A leading provider of facility management solutions, ABM UK also established an Expert Advisory Council, composed of external leading experts in infectious disease and industrial hygiene to advise on many aspects of ABM UK’s business, including its proprietary EnhancedClean™ programme.  

UK Business to Launch First Naturally Biodegradable Plastic Packaging Alternative Containing Graphene

UK biotech company Toraphene is preparing to unveil the world's first truly biodegradable, compostable and commercially viable alternative to plastic packaging.

The company has developed a new material, also called Toraphene, that uses biopolymers that compost naturally and biodegrade without human intervention, even in the ocean. The biopolymers are combined with Nobel Prize-winning graphene, which is derived from carbon and is stronger than diamond at an atomic level.

While biodegradable plastics currently exist, they rely on commercial composting, which uses energy to heat the compost, as well as presenting other logistical challenges. For example, in 2019, the BBC found that compostable plastics in Wales were going to landfills rather than being composted because almost all local councils were unable to deal with them.

In addition, some bioplastics produce methane gas when they decompose, a compound with a global warming potential 25 times that of CO2.  Toraphene can be optimized to mostly produce CO2 along with mulch that can be used to fortify topsoil.

“Amidst a climate crisis, plastic waste is known to be a huge, global problem and many plastic alternatives now exist, so why don’t we see them everywhere?”, asks Gaute Juliussen, CEO and Founder of Toraphene. “It’s because they need specific manmade conditions to biodegrade, and many degrade into microplastics, which contaminate our oceans and food chain for centuries”.

Such bioplastics have “effectively been ‘greenwashed’ and mis-sold to environmentally responsible consumers and companies,” continues Juliussen. “They also tear easily, shorten the shelf-life of the contents they contain and cannot be produced economically at scale”.

Due to the addition of Graphene, Toraphene has been shown to be stronger, thinner, and less permeable than alternatives, improving food safety and shelf-life. This presents the first commercially viable alternative to plastics.

An entrepreneur, venture capitalist and former Associate Professor of Business, Juliussen founded Toraphene in 2018 with the initial aim of creating a green alternative to carrier bags and food and drink containers. Such plastics make up 23 per cent of marine waste.

Ahead of the launch of Toraphene, which is patented in the UK, EU, and the US, Juliussen is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, encouraging anyone who cares for the environment to be part of the Toraphene journey.

For your chance to win £250 of Amazon vouchers, share your thoughts on 2021 workplace trends in our short survey, in conjunction with NFS Technology.

The workplace culture that we left in early 2020 is no more, but there are many factors that drive successful workplace change. We are now witnessing relatively successful home working arrangements, the wide adoption of collaboration technologies and staff wellbeing is top of the agenda.

This Workplace 2021 Survey, conducted by ThisWeekinFM and NFS Technology, seeks to identify some of these important drivers for change, how businesses are planning to implement structural change in their future workplace, as well as gaining a better understanding of the “how” question – the role of technology and the leadership of workplace change.

We will be sharing our findings in a report, due to be published in January 2021.

To thank you for your contribution, we will be entering all participants into a draw in December and the winner will be sent £250 of Amazon Vouchers (or equivalent in local currency).

This is your chance to contribute to valuable research in the facilities and workplace management sector, and to help shape workplace change for 2021.

19 November 2020

Welcome to this week’s Grapevine, the place to get your bitesize FM updates in one place, in a handy five-minute read.

Got a story for us? Please send news stories & press releases to:

BioHygiene Advises a Philosophy of Environmental Disinfection

BioHygiene is advising the facilities management and cleaning sectors to remain environmentally conscious at a time when the use of disinfectants is likely to be at an all-time high across the country.

The green-minded biotechnology company, who saw sales of their All-Purpose and Hand Sanitisers skyrocket throughout the pandemic, is keen to stress that when considering “Environmental Disinfection” we must look out for both short- and long-term effects.

Erum Ahmed, Director of Sales at BioHygiene, explained: “At present, there are still traditional products in the market that contain quats, alcohol, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide or a mixture of these. All of these can impact the immediate or the external environment in which they are used.

“By immediate impact, we look at negative effects to the user – alcohol-based sanitisers that can dry out the skin, irritate the eyes and cause safety concerns due to its high flammability. In addition, the inclusion of alcohol in skincare products and the possibility of its transference and tainting in food preparation, can cause conflict with certain religious beliefs.”

According to BioHygiene, the cleaning and FM sectors should ask their suppliers questions around raw materials, CO2e, packaging and aquatic toxicity when purchasing sanitisers and disinfectants to ensure they tick the various boxes with regard to sustainability. Only through diligence on all these points can ‘Environmental Disinfection’ be delivered.

Questioning some of current products available, Ahmed added: “The market has recently been flooded with hand sanitiser of varying quality, this can be attributed to the standard derogation made by the  WHO at the start of the pandemic approving any hand sanitiser that contained over 65 per cent alcohol. This has ultimately allowed product to reach the market without going through the usual accreditation processes, raising questions of safety – for both the user and the environment.

“Ultimately, we do still recommend frequent cleaning as the first point of controlling the spread of germs with sanitising and disinfecting used as a belt braces approach. We just want people in the industry to ensure that however they choose to clean, they use our philosophy of Cleaner, Leaner, Greener!”

Vertas Wins Customer Care Award

Vertas Group has won the Customer Care Award at the Suffolk Business Awards 2020. The group also reached the final three of the Business of the Year and was a finalist for Employer of the Year.

The awards, which are sponsored by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Sizewell C, are designed to celebrate achievements and recognise the hard work of Suffolk’s most innovative, imaginative and inspiring firms. 

The Customer Care award, sponsored by Greater Anglia, was awarded to Vertas Group for exemplifying outstanding customer service, consistently delivered at the highest level, by a customer-focused team.

Ian Surtees, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Vertas Group Limited, stated: “We are so proud to have won the Customer Care award.  We want every interaction with our customers to be positive. We want our teams to be seen as an extension of our customers’ teams, supporting and helping always. We are proud that this award recognises the significant efforts of our teams to put our customers first every time. For our business we will continue to build on our success, making a difference to all our customers.” 

Competing with a range of businesses, Vertas Group has reached the final three for the Business of the Year Award. In September, Vertas Group celebrated its fifth birthday, and being named a finalist is testament to the achievements colleagues have and continue to make across the business.

Churchill Environmental Appoints Nick Easey as Relationship Director

Facilities services provider, the Churchill Group has appointed Nick Easey as relationship director for Churchill Environmental, the division that delivers environmental compliance services including water and air hygiene, fire, electrical and gas safety, and asbestos management. 

In his new role, Nick will be responsible for helping new and existing customers to develop IoT based smart building management solutions across their property portfolio, with a strong focus on statutory compliance.

Nick has been in the Facilities Management sector since 2000, starting with operational client-side responsibilities at NTL telecom, before moving into sales and client-facing functions in the outsourced facilities sector, most recently holding senior positions with Mitie and Leadec.

He specialises in technical and integrated solutions across a multitude of sectors, including manufacturing, nuclear and aviation and commercial facilities, and has led complex bid strategies for clients exploring first time outsource programmes through to Intelligent IoT based strategies.

On his appointment, Nick commented: “I am thrilled to be joining the Churchill family. I’m looking forward to working with the team here to build and develop valuable and sustainable relationships with our clients, and to take an active role in helping to grow the business.”

Spencer Culley, managing director of Churchill Environmental added: “We’re delighted to welcome Nick as part of the team. His experience and knowledge, and his ability to build strong client partnerships will be invaluable to our business.”

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