Hand Dryers v Paper Towels

13th March 2017·Industry News

There is an ongoing argument between hand dryer manufacturers and paper towel manufacturers about which of the methods of drying your hands are most cost-effective, most hygienic and better for the environment.

Why? It’s simple really, both sets of manufacturers stand to gain financially from the sales of their respective products and will naturally try hard to prove their product is the better option.

Lets take a look at costs

As an example we will look at an office with 50 staff using hand towels.

The estimated usage of each person is 2.5 hand towels on average 4.5 times a day.
Over a year this equates to 146,250 paper towels at an approximate cost of almost £800.00.
If the company decides to replace the paper towel dispenser with an electric hand dryer, the paper towel company is losing up to £800.00 in revenue every year.

However, how much could the savings be?

The total cost of using a new energy-efficient hand dryer using 2- 4 watts to dry the hands of the same number of staff, would use 117 to 235 kilowatt hours of electricity. Current tariffs run from 10.6 p to around 12p so at the higher end you would be looking at around £13 to £28 pounds a year – a saving of up to £787.00 in a year.

While this does not include the cost of the dryer, the paper towel example doesn’t include the costs of staff deployment to fill and maintain the paper towel dispensers. So, in terms of costs the company benefits greatly from installing hand dryers.

Hygiene Considerations

Since paper towel companies are unable to compete on price with electric hand dryers, they have commissioned studies to show how unhygienic hand dryers can be.

Their argument is that quick, effective drying is the key to good hand hygiene, if your hands are wet, the bacteria is able to multiply with ease. While the ‘wet hands’ argument was valid for the old generation hand-dryers, the new generation hand-dryers provided a faster, more effective hand drying regime than paper towels, which often fail (due to user failure in the main) to effectively dry between the fingers and under nails.

Many of the newer hand dryer models have also been proven to kill bacteria left on surfaces around the hand cleaning areas, something that the paper towel industry have been unable to claim. And of course if the paper towel dispenser is empty, then you are really facing some major hygiene issues!

Finally, the environmental issues.

Most, modern hand dryers that use as little as 2-4 watts per dry have a tiny impact on the environment.

In the office example mentioned above, the 117-kilowatt hours represents 63.18 kg Co2 per year.

Dysons life cycle research into the carbon emissions produced by paper towels combined with the estimated use of paper towels is equally revealing.

If you dry your hands with paper towels each use creates at least 22.5 grams of Co2 each time. This is generated from chopping down trees, the transportation of raw materials for processing, the cost of energy to carry out the processing, additional transportation to finishing factories and energy consumption to create the particular paper product, not to mention packaging, further transportation to main warehouse, distribution to local warehouse, distribution to the customer and the constant replenishment cycle.

The same office is potentially creating 1287 kg Co2 per year.

Because paper towels cannot be recycled, they can only be made of previously recycled paper, so they generally end up in landfill too.

Do your company and the environment a favour – switch to cost and energy efficient hand dryer solutions; at NWR Hygiene Group we have an extensive range of products all designed to be perfect fits for your particular washroom types.

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