With an increased awareness of the environmental challenges that face our world today, business owners are fortunately becoming more eco-conscious and looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact. Businesses that want to embrace their corporate responsibility of helping to protect the environment can often come up against the dilemma of finding eco-friendly practices that also allow them to save money. Using the right energy efficient technology is key to resolving this dilemma; to both reduce carbon emissions and to lower electricity costs in an era of rising energy bills.
For those businesses for which it is necessary to provide public or worker washrooms, the practice of hand drying can be a particular source of carbon emissions. When faced with the decision of whether to provide paper towels or hand dryers, eco-conscious businesses are met with two main factors to consider: which is more environmentally friendly but also which costs less?
When you consider the manufacture, transportation and disposal practices of paper towels, it soon becomes apparent that they aren’t as eco-friendly as is commonly perceived when you factor in the resulting CO2 emissions that occur from these processes let alone their contribution to deforestation in their production and ultimately the unsustainable method of disposal in landfill. In fact, 2% of the total landfill space in the US consists of disposed paper towels. Hand dryers meanwhile are more complex to manufacture, admittedly from less eco-friendly materials, but they offer a far longer product life, typically lasting 5 years. What’s more, the materials from the hand dryer can later be recycled for use in other products, making hand dryers a more environmentally sustainable option than that of paper towels. Advances in hand dryer technology allow them to now operate far more powerfully and energy efficiently than those previously, offering a lower environmental impact due to their significantly reduced drying cycle of approximately 10seconds. In 2011 a study was conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that determined that new hand dryers produced 70% less CO2 emissions than paper towels and older, warm air hand dryers. Some of latest models, such as the advanced XLERATOR hand dryer, uses 80% less energy yet is capable of drying your hands in a third of the time required by conventional hand dryers. In comparison to paper towels, the XLERATOR works on just 76 kilojules per use whilst paper towels would require 743 kilojules per use - that’s a saving of 667 kilojules of energy per hand dry!
In terms of financial comparisons, though hand dryers are typically more expensive to purchase, they then require considerably less maintenance than paper towels once installed which reduces the costs of labour. The true cost of providing paper towels occurs over the years, where the necessity of restocking and eventual disposal soon adds up. Because the new models of hand dryers function on a lower energy consumption, they prove to be a more economical option than paper towels; the XLERATOR for example offers an average saving of 95%.
The combination of the environmental and financial benefits gained when businesses switch to energy-efficient hand dryers surely proves to be an answer to the question “hand dryers or paper towels?”.