Commercial Restroom Hand Dryers Take On Paper Towels – One Restroom At A Time
If you’re in charge of a building, your perpetual, twofold mission is clear: go green and save green. You make no move without the mission in mind, always on the lookout for opportunities to support it. Have you checked the restrooms? When you think about potential areas for eco-friendly improvement, your restrooms may not immediately come to mind. In fact, if you’ve got manual paper-towel dispensers, proudly filled (for the moment, anyway) with recycled fiber paper towels, you may reason that your lavatories are as green as grass. In terms of the other, traditional green, your thoughts on restrooms may border on resignation: They’re a messy, demanding cause of inevitable expense, and always will be. If your beliefs are along those lines, the facts may blow you away. As confirmed by a peer-reviewed (per ISO 14040 standards) Life Cycle Assessment of the high-speed, energy-efficient XLERATOR® Hand Dryer:
- Paper towels are not the environmental friend they seem to be. When compared to 100 percent recycled paper towels and traditional hand dryers, XLERATOR reduces the carbon footprint of hand drying by up to 75 percent.
- Paper towels are the root cause of many restroom expenses. XLERATOR hand dryer provides a 95 percent cost savings versus paper towels, eliminating their associated labor, maintenance, and waste and creating a more hygienic restroom environment.
At first, you might wonder how this can be. After all, side by side, an electrical appliance looks costlier and more power hungry than a roll of recycled paper. And therein, friends lies the deception.
If these towels could talk
Though silent and plain to the eye, a paper towel would have quite a tale to tell if it could. When considering restroom paper towel use, it’s important to understand the full journey of this unassumingly brown sheet. Where did it come from? Where will it end up? Typically, a paper towel’s short life cycle looks like this:
- 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.
- Transportation: Trucks must 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 (read: trash).
- Manufacturing process: All paper is born through mechanical or chemical pulping, then sorted and packaged using any number of materials. Again, though much greener than in decades past, these processes inevitably impact the environment.
- Use: Here is where paper towels may seem to earn their green star. They don’t expend much energy on the job, but they’re probably already exhausted from what it took to reach the workplace. And once used, who knows where the towel goes… did that toss even reach the trash bin? Paper towels can make quite a mess of restrooms, littering the floor, blocking sink drains and, for a bonus expense, clogging toilets. Then, after a string of high-maintenance situations, the kicker: constant, costly restocking of the culprit.
- End of life: Some take the term recycled to mean recyclable. Unfortunately, they mean very different things. Even a 100 percent recycled paper towel—that is, one made completely from recycled content—has no postconsumer value. Unless its weave also contains fibers of gold, a used paper towel is destined for one place: the landfill.
As you can see, a paper towel incurs a host of monetary and environmental costs at each phase of life. 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. Longmeadow High School adopted XLERATOR Hand Dryers as part of its sustainability-focused, total reconstruction, happily ending the resource-sucking cycle for good. (Get the full grade-making story here.) As you ponder new ways to fulfill your green building mission, go ahead and crumple up those long-standing myths you’ve heard about the power of paper. Of course, just be conscious of where you toss them. You can find Excel Dryer at these 2017 industry-related events: