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A Balanced Approach to Hand Drying

Posted on 8/30/2012 in Dryers

In the US, when organizations start with the question, "Hand Dryers or Paper Towels," the answer usually comes up as paper towels.   Habits, germophobia, OCD, executive preference, and long-standing paper contracts all contribute to this result.  But maybe facility owners are asking the wrong question.  Maybe the question should be, "What is our objective with our bathroom strategies?"  Because if you start with this, the answer might be something like this:  "We want a 60-70% reduction in paper towel cost and landfill waste and greater labor efficiencies."

In other words, the products you put in your bathrooms and the layout design of those bathrooms will dictate your resulting cost structure, and they are not that hard to change.  I've been amazed at how many bathrooms in the US have both hand dryers and paper towels, so more and more people are looking at it this way.  Let's take a look at a decent sized college.

Say that there are 20,000 students and 9,000 faculty/staff.  Let's assume that paper towels cost $0.01/towel and each towel weighs 2 grams.  It's easy to estimate the paper usage with a few assumptions.  Let's say that the students use bathrooms 2 times/day on campus but are only on campus 160 days/year, while faculty and staff use the bathrooms 4 times/day and are on campus 240 days/year.  Both use only 2 towels per trip.  A little simple math gives us students using 12.8M towels and faculty/staff using 17.3M towels.   That's $301,000 in paper cost and 66.4 tons of landfill.  Is a reduction of 60-70% worth a little analysis?  Is this something your sustainability managers can tout?  You bet!

At NetDryers, we can help you use this balanced approach for your organization and help you strategize how to mix hand dryers and paper in a way that still gets you results with minimal investment, a 6-18 month payback (you can invest from the savings and still be budget neutral), and keep the people that need paper for whatever reason happy.  It's a perfect world.  Call us and let us help!