What's That Smell?


Finding a solution for odours in garbage rooms.


Filed under
Specialised Cleaning
August 2, 2017
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What's That Smell?

Across the New World, buildings are only getting higher. The Middle East region boasts of the highest tower in the world – and high rise apartments have fast become the status of today’s new economy. However, with such structures comes the garbage chute – the tiny little room that allows tenants to dispose of garbage. In most cases, these rooms come with the constant odour of garbage – which makes it so much more difficult for facility managers to maintain.

Why are such odours bad? They are signs of decaying compost and waste – and in the long run, they can emit poisonous, noxious gases and hamper the health of living organisms. When people think of garbage rooms, they think of having to tolerate bad smells because it comes along with the territory. This doesn't have to be the case. Garbage odours are easily managed in buildings with a competent management staff, despite the fact that the average resident is personally responsible for disposing off roughly 2 kgs of waste each day, which adds up quickly in a high-rise. And yet, according to many people in the waste management business, most tenants hesitate to impose definable standards on the quality of a building's trash compactor, the cleanliness of the garbage chute, or the smell of a garbage room.

Because garbage connotes a certain amount of eyewatering, nose-plugging unpleasantness, it is often let off the hook by building residents based on the argument that it is what it is - garbage. And yet, there are ample services available to reduce - and neutralise - the odours, health risks, fire hazards and infestation problems that are associated with organic and toxic waste. It's up to tenants themselves to evaluate whether or not their building is making room in the budget to utilise these services - preferably before there is an obvious need to do so.

There is no need to don nose-plugs, goggles and industrial gloves to take a closer look at the building's trash cycle; facility managers can conduct a valuable inspection by simply knowing the right questions to ask. To begin, when and how is the garbage chute and room cleaned?

Keeping garbage sites clean

Most mid- to large-size residential buildings with enough garbage volume still do not have trash compactor units, and the ones that do, don’t work and are bypassed. Some garbage chutes come fully equipped with a brush, degreaser box at the roof top with a spray nozzle on each floor. Moreover, routine cleaning of the garbage chutes is not performed by most operators due to the lack of knowledge of how to operate the system.

In today’s system, each floor has its own garbage room, where tenants can open a hopper door and express mail their bags of trash down a chute to the basement. There it is compressed, bagged and carried out to the street. This means that the garbage is in transit three times before it is hauled away by the city: from the apartment to the garbage room, from the garbage room to the basement, and from the basement to the street. Particularly in the chute itself, there is a great potential for the spillage of a flammable liquid like paint; of rotting organic waste that attracts vermin and rodents; or, least charming to imagine, perhaps, a day's worth of dirty diapers. Thus, for reasons that run the gamut from air quality to fire codes, it is essential that all these onsite garbage areas are kept clean - including the chute, which is hard to get at without the right equipment. Preventive maintenance is important - you don't want to wait until something goes wrong.

Building managers have the option to either wash down the systems themselves, or to call in the services of a professional cleaning company. These companies provide full-service cleaning of compactor systems, including the hopper doors in the garbage rooms, the chute, and the base compactor. The most proactive facility managers might choose to attack the issue of odor by installing some kind of deodorizing service, but for the most part these are deodorizers that hang from the wall and smell like strawberry or cherry. They mask odors rather than neutralizing them, and in many cases what you end up with is the smell of decomposing waste, and cherry. Smell familiar? Perhaps it's time to raise the bar and set new standards for your trash.

Odor mitigation services

There are products that help to mitigate the malodours in garbage chute rooms. For any facility, it is important for the cleaning staff to carry out routine cleaning of the chute – the floors, the walls and the chute itself. That is where a green, eco-friendly degreaser is important – such a product with the odour neutralizing properties that it has not only helps keep the walls and floors sque aky clean but also leave the garbage room fresh.

Routine cleaning with an odour neutralizer not only neutralizes the malodor from organic waste but also helps in treating the underlying factors causing the odour problem. At Blue, our Kleanzair VOC odor management systems provide the high performance standards in eliminating noxious odours and hazardous VOCs. They use the next generation green chemistry, both exceptionally safe to use and able to provide accelerated bioremediation of the toxic biological conditions which produce odors

About the Author:

Fazir Subair is the Manager for Megalab Division under the aegis of Blue L.L.C. He has worked for more than 11 years in his field, presently acting as a technology and solutions expert for the firm. Being a Chemical Engineer by profession, he works on improving the process operations within a sustainable framework. He has also worked within the wastewater industry and is well averse with several odour control technologies in the market for various applications. These include commercial, residential and industrial aspects of odor mitigation.