Can You Dry Your Hands Without Putting a Dent in the Planet or Your Profits?

Can You Dry Your Hands Without Putting a Dent in the Planet or Your Profits?

Which is better for the environment, drying your hands with paper towels or using air dryers? Paper towels dry your hands quickly, but can create waste, increase deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Air dryers are waste free, but use large amounts of energy to manufacture and use, which can also results in an increase of greenhouse gas emissions. The answer may not be as simple as you think.

Understanding the Emission Scopes of Paper Towel vs. Air Dryers

In order to thoroughly examine the carbon footprint of both methods, it’s important to understand their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Scope 1 emissions are classified as all direct greenhouse gas emissions; scope 2 emissions are the use of purchased heat, electricity and steam. Scope 3 emissions, or value-chain emissions are emissions that are indirect but are still make up 80% of most company’s greenhouse gases, such as business commuting, use of sold products, investments, leased assets and etc. When analyzing all three scopes, the environmental impact between air dryers and paper towels is very different and can make it hard to compare.

Paper towels are a driving force for deforestation, but also require a large amount of CO2 emissions to manufacture high quality paper products, like paper towels. Did you know that Approximately 40% of global industrial wood harvest is used for paper products! Plus, electricity is used in many sensor hand dryers whether they are wired or use batteries (which are even more detrimental to the environment). The product is inherently wasteful; a large portion of general commercial waste comes from paper towel. Harvard management analysis found that 20% – 40% of waste from an office building is paper towels.

Dyson XleratorMost air dryers use an incredible amount of energy to blow the hot air needed to dry our hands. Currently Canada only uses 17% of total energy usage from renewables, and 22% of Canadian electrical energy is still directed from fossil fuels. According to Livestrong, the standard hot-air dryer uses 2,200 watts of power to run. Not to mention a multiple studies show by the time it would take to fully dry your hands, 41% of people just wipe there hands on their pants.

Which is the Better choice?

So with such different scope emissions and environmental effects, it’s hard to really understand which is the better choice. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. But with both having a harmful effect, the solution to better hand drying for employees and customers is to use new, innovative and environmentally friendly options for both.

Paper Towel Innovation

Many paper towel companies are better enhancing their products from recycled products, as well as more paper products staying unbleached to avoid using chlorine, which has a harmful effect on all levels of the food chain. Brown paper products make for great additions to compost, which limits the amounts of paper towel that ends up in the landfills. Also a great alternative that still gives users very dry hands is with The Reusable Cloth Roll Towel (CRT). This towel reuses and re-cleans its fabric to help cut the amount of deforestation caused by high demand of paper products. And even though the reusable fabric may seem dirty, CRT was ranked the most hygienic out of several other options that included standard paper towels, and hot air dryers!

Air Dryer Innovation

New and innovative hand dryers have become also incredibly energy efficient to significantly lower their environmental impact. XLERATOR, Dyson Airblade and Mitsubishi Jet Towel are three great examples of this. Not only are these air dryers great alternatives to help lower your businesses carbon they also are incredibly powerful, more then 80% more efficient compared to hot air dryers of the past. This can help maintain the professionalism of your business compared to standard slow, weak current hot air dryers.

Potential Global Warming from Dyson Hand Dryers vs. Cotton and Paper Towel (Source: Dyson)

Potential Global Warming from Dyson Hand Dryers vs. Cotton and Paper Towel (Source: Dyson)

The dryers are so energy efficient, built to last and cut your costs from paper towels or old dryers significantly to have a big and quick return on investment. The XLERATOR is about one third of the price of the Airblade, but Dyson’s innovation has gotten them to be safe and approved for use in the food sector, as well has a great return on investment. The Mitsubishi Jet Towel only costs $25 a year to run. Find the price for XLERATOR here and the Dyson Airblade here and several other energy efficient air dryers, including the Mitsubishi Jet Towel here.

With several alternatives to the standard hot air dryers and paper towels emerging, ways businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and cut operational costs are more prevalent then ever. Make your business play as a leader in alternating facilities to impress your employees, customers and the planet.

Matt Hussey Ecobase Certified


 Written by Matt Hussey

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