If you’re in charge of a commercial building, your mission is clear: go green, get clean, and save green.
You make no move without keeping this in mind, and you’re always on the lookout for opportunities to support it.
But have you checked your restrooms lately?
When you think about potential areas for hygienic, eco-friendly improvements, your restrooms may not immediately come to mind.
If your commercial paper towel dispensers are filled (at the moment), you’re all good, right?
Well, beyond the surface, they might be leading to added costs, clutter, and a less hygienic restroom environment.
Styles of Commercial Paper Towel Dispensers
Before we go on further about hand dryers, let’s dig into commercial paper towel dispensers styles first.
Traditional Surface-Mounted Dispensers
These machines are mounted on the surface of a wall. By installing a surface-mounted commercial paper towel dispenser, you save valuable counter space while providing restroom users a hand drying solution right near the sink.
ASI, San Jamar, and VonDrehle are just a few of the manufacturers of surface-mounted commercial paper towel dispensers.
Traditional ones are typically manual, where the user grabs and pulls the next paper towel out of the dispenser.
They can range anywhere between $10 and $400.
Automatic dispensers yield paper towels when users wave their hands in front of the sensor.
These dispensers allow users to obtain paper towels without touching the dispenser, a more hygienic solution. Hands-free dispensers are available from various manufacturers such as Merfin, Bobrick, San Jamar, and others, and they can come in plastic or stainless steel.
These are better than traditional dispensers, but they still come with a downside. Batteries can fail, or the paper roll can jam and force users to reach in and spin the dial to advance a paper towel by hand.
Typical costs for these are between $25 to $300.
C-Fold and MultiFold Paper Towels
C-Fold and multifold paper towel dispensers are similar.
The “C” in C-fold stands for center folded paper towels. These paper towels are manufactured to lay one on top of the other. M-fold or multifold paper towels are produced to interlock with one another.
These folded paper towel dispensers are available with or without a waste receptacle, typically recessed into the wall, and are commonly available in stainless steel.
Some of the waste receptacles are removable while others are not, and bags need to be changed on the spot. These dispensers can lead to waste, as the average person typically pulls out as many as three to four towels for single use.
Costs for c-fold and multifold paper towel dispensers can range from $15 to $700.
ADA Compliant Commercial Paper Towels Dispensers
Lever pull paper towel dispensers, or crank paper towel dispensers, are often found in low-traffic restrooms and require users to pull a lever or crank to get their desired length of paper towel. These are usually ADA compliant.
Like other paper towel dispenser styles, these are available in metal, plastic, or stainless steel. These units tend to run out of paper towels quicker than other styles because people normally use more than the intended amount.
Costs for this paper towel dispenser type are between $20 and $250.
If These Towels Could Talk
Typically, a paper towel’s short life cycle looks like this:
1) Material Production
Today, most paper comes from reasonably sustainable sources, either recycled materials or commercially grown forests. However, trees must still be cut for virgin paper, and recycled materials must be collected, sorted, cleaned, and processed.
Trucks carry tons of logs and other raw materials to production sites, deliver cases of the finished product to businesses, and regularly carry away the used product (i.e. trash).
3) Manufacturing process
All paper is born through mechanical or chemical pulping, then sorted and packaged using a number of materials. Though much greener compared to the past, these processes still impact the environment.
Paper towels don’t expend much energy on the job. But once used, they often get tossed haphazardly around the restroom, leading to clutter, messiness, blocked drains, and even clogged toilets. Beyond those maintenance situations, dispensers also need to be constantly restocked with new paper towels.
5) End of Life
Some take the term “recycled” to mean “recyclable.” Unfortunately, they mean very different things. Even a 100% recycled paper towel – that is, one made entirely from recycled content – has no postconsumer value. A used paper towel is destined for one place: the landfill.
Hand Dryer vs. Commercial Paper Towel Dispensers
Have you seen the TED Talk by Joe Smith? He claims to have the secret to saving 571 million pounds of paper towels every year. His advice is simple: “shake” and “fold.”
The gist of the lecture is that after you’ve washed your hands, you should shake your hands off above the sink twelve times and then use one single paper towel, which you fold in half first.
Smith seems like an unlikely presenter based on his background of being a lawyer and Oregon Attorney General. But he’s apparently quite active in the Oregon community as an advocate for “proper paper towel use.” In five minutes, you’d realize how passionate he is on the subject.
Want to know a way to save even more pounds of paper towel though? By not using them at all.
A high-speed, energy-efficient electric hand dryer is the ideal alternative.
Third-party studies show that the XLERATOR® electric hand dryer outperformed paper towels for environmental-related concerns over a ten-year period. The study found that the “XLERATOR also reduces the use of non-renewable energy impacts on ecosystems and emissions that damage human health.”
Not to mention, the XLERATOR takes less time to dry your hands than Smith’s “shake and fold” method.
Why Hand Dryers Are the Better Options
Our research shows that using hand dryers instead of paper towels generates up to a 95% cost savings over paper towels. Unlike a single investment in high-efficiency hand dryers, a commitment to stocking paper towels means an endless loop of repetition and expense, from creation through disposal.
Let’s also consider the environmental impact of using paper towels.
Our peer-reviewed Life Cycle Assessment shows that electric hand dryers reduce a building’s carbon footprint by 50% to 70% compared to paper towels. XLERATOR uses considerably less energy compared to paper towels, 100% recycled paper towels, and even standard electric hand dryers.
Not only do paper towels dry your hands less quickly than electric air hand dryers, but electric hand dryers are way more hygienic too. Avoid the dirty paper towels strewn about the restroom. Tests prove that XLERATOR with HEPA filtration system can remove 99.999% of viruses from the airstream.
Many different types of commercial paper towel dispensers range from simple surface mount dispensers to more complex automatic units. These dispensers range in price from just $10 to units costing more than $1,000. When outfitting your restroom with the ultimate hand drying solution, it is important to consider the upfront cost and the long-term cost, and the hygienic and environmental impacts of your chosen solution too.
Get more information on the XLERATOR hand dryer today.