Since the introduction of hand dryers into public restroom settings, efficiency and practicality have been questioned, as patrons and facility management debate which is better – hand dryers or paper towels.
Hand dryers are available in two variations: the standard, warm-air model and a high-speed model, introduced in the early 2000s. Current high-speed models are faster, and much more efficient than previous generations, causing facility managers to rethink their washroom strategy.
Electric hand dryers tend to have higher up-front costs than paper towel dispensers. Both initial hardware and in some cases electrical hook up are considerations. The initial costs often deter management from switching away from paper towels, but as you can see from our below calculations, that decision could add up to over $8,000 in additional costs over a 10 year period.
Following the purchase and installation of high-speed hand dryers, the cost to run is much cheaper than paper towel. When you consider the production, transportation, maintenance, and disposal that are required by facilities using paper towel, the costs are significantly higher.
High-Speed Hand Dryer = $0.00809
Paper Towel = $0.0625
The chart above reveals that the lifecycle of a high-speed hand dryer is approximately
7 times more cost effective than the total lifecycle of a paper towel dispenser.
Facility managers are always looking for ways to improve day-to-day operations and save on operating costs. Environmental impact calculations rely on more than just usage – consideration into the production of raw materials, transportation to facility, and landfill implications must be taken to determine the impression made on the environment.
When all factors are examined, the use of paper towel yields a more significant impact upon the environment than that of high-speed hand dryers.
Lower Carbon Footprint
Lasting anywhere between 7 to 10 years, both types (standard and high-speed) of hand dryers have a lower impact on our environment, producing 42% less carbon dioxide emissions than paper towels. Industry trends lead toward sustainable and efficient business practices that reduce carbon dioxide emissions (Diffen, n.d.).
- Hand dryers = 9- 40 g of carbon dioxide emissions per use
- Paper towels = 56 g of carbon dioxide emissions per use (Class G, 2014)
Recent studies reveal that the most important improvement that individuals would like to see in public restrooms is cleanliness. Paper towel is often left on the floors and sinks, often making facilities look somewhat unkempt.
Today, touch-less products continue to gain in popularity and usage throughout various facilities, as individuals remain wary about germs and bacteria. A 2014 survey highlighted that 65% of individuals using public washrooms opted to use paper towel, believing that hand dryers harbor more germs than paper towel dispensers. However, results from a recent study indicate that high-speed hand dryers are approximately six times cleaner than paper towel dispensers (Robinson, 2014).
As research indicates, paper towel dispensers are not a sustainable option for use in the majority of facilities. The factors listed (cost savings, environmental impact, carbon footprint, and hygiene) help determine the level of sustainability from both paper towel and hand dryer options (Robinson, 2014).
Source: New feed