Hand Dryers vs. Paper Towels
Hand Dryers and paper towels use energy
and environmental resources to produce.
It’s no secret that energy is used to produce metals and mechanical
However, one must consider the
life of a quality hand dryer is about 7-10 years on average. Traditional hand
dryers typically use about 2,200 watts of power turned on or activated.
Today’s energy efficient models use
only 1500 watts, and as low as 500 watts (The new Excel Dryer Xlerator ECO).
That’s a huge improvement in technology. Keep in mind; most studies you may come across have been performed on old
traditional hand dryers vs. paper towel. But worse yet, most were funded by the paper industry and promote bad methods of study with irrelevant measures or just plain bad science. Accounting for the improvements in energy consumption with current hand dryer technology is essential
when comparing the environmental foot print caused from paper towel. For example, many hand dryers today use HEPA filtration to eliminate bacteria from air ensuring pure clean air is used to dry hands. Furthermore, hand dryer technology is always evolving. Recently, American Dryer decided to use cold plasma and couple that technology with the concept of drying hands. Cold plasma is a natural and safe known method of destroying bacteria. Hospitals use it to treat surgical wounds. The ExtremeAir CPC hand dryer uses cold plasma to kill 99.6% of all germs on and around hands while drying. So as technology evolves, it is becoming more difficult for the paper industry to spin shady studies. Yet, they continue to fund these bad studies and for good reason. Hand dryers eliminate the need altogether for paper towels, and business owners are happily moving to them because they slash operational and maintenance costs.
Imagine a huge facility (such as a major league baseball stadium or a concert venue) having fans use paper towel to no end. The costs for running an operation where extremely high traffic volume takes place in a restroom just doesn't make any logical sense when it can be totally eliminated. No more paper towel costs, no more waste management, no more vandalism with paper towels stuffed in toilets, no more maintenance costs associated with restocking the paper, no more angry customers or fans from paper towel dispensers running out of paper, and all this while promoting a cleaner and more sustainable environment. It's a total "no-brainer" for businesses. Yet, the main problem still exists; the vast majority of people (restroom users, customers, and fans) prefer paper over hand dryers. Mainly because people have not been properly educated on new technology such as HEPA filtration and cold plasma.
More on Paper Towel and the Debate with Hand Dryers
There is a huge variation on how paper is produced.
Starting from how trees are
harvested. Most American paper is produced from forests that are replenished,
lessening the sting on the issue of destroying trees. But what about the
expenditure of fossil-fuels and transporting logs in mass quantities?
Surely, these operations produce
environmental challenges of their own.
must account for the
pulping process which is known to produce potentially harmful emissions that may find
route into nearby rivers or streams.
There’s also a cost associated with transporting the paper towel across the
Hand dryers must be
transported as well, but keep in mind; they last from 7-10 years on average.
Paper towel is replenished frequently
making the transportation costs much higher. Trucks are huge contributors to polluting our air and using up
precious resources such as oil and gas.
EPA claims that the production of recycled paper requires
40 percent less energy than making virgin paper.
Thus, using recycled paper would be a much better study. However, paper
towels are not recyclable after the first use; they remain an item that collects
dampness and create a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, still add to
landfill space, and all the production problems outlined above.
recycled paper towel have been found to hold higher counts of bacteria
then virgin paper towel.
right, “unused” recycled paper towel!
Franklin Associates ran a study in 2002, comparing the Excel Dryer
XLERATOR hand dryer life-cycle to that of paper towels. The study closely compared the
energy used to cut down trees vs. the mining of raw ores.
Franklin Associates concluded that
recycled towels result in an energy expenditure of 460 kilojoules per use,
versus 222 kilojoules per use for a standard dryer. The Climate Conservancy has
done similar research. Both rely on the assumption that the average person uses
two paper towels.
waste more than 2 paper towels when drying wet hands in restrooms, but I suppose
the average could be two per person.
The Climate Conservancy is a
non-profit organization founded by scientists at Stanford University to inform
decision makers about the green house gas emissions embodied in the products and services
they buy, and to foster market mechanisms that will lead to reduced emissions.
With rising energy costs, the
choice is very clear that new, bold, cutting edge technology in hand dryers such
Dyson Airblade (just to name a few) are far superior
in cost savings, energy savings, and bacteria reduction.
In fact, the ExtremeAir offers a
version (the no heat EXT7), that dries hands in 12-15 seconds and uses 540
watts, costing only 18 cents per 1,000 hands dried.
It’s also about 40% smaller than most
other hand dryers; thus, needing less metals to produce the cover in terms of
mining raw ores. And, as we mentioned above, the ExtremeAir CPC uses cold plasma to kill 99.6% of all germs such as C.diff, Staph, E.coli, MRSA, Salmonella, Influenza A and more. Paper towels can't kill bacteria. In fact, bacteria has been proven to live well on all paper towel, even unused paper waiting for the next person in line.
The EcoStorm hand
dryer by Palmer Fixture is made 100% from recyclable materials, making the
EcoStorm one of the greenest products produced.
The Dyson Airblade hand dryer uses a HEPA filter to reduce 99.9% of
bacteria from the air.
In terms of
hand dryers vs. paper towel, the paper doesn’t stand a chance.
Paper towel ends up collecting water
from hands that contained bacteria.
Rubbing the hands together brings skin cells to the surface carrying bacteria.Damp places are a breeding ground for
Have you ever been in a
restroom where the paper towel had run out?
However, a study from the
Mayo Clinic shows that there is no difference in
bacteria removal from hand dryers or paper towel.
But take close notice; the study used a hand activated drying machine.In other words, they used an old
push-button hand dryer that is irrelevant to today’s technology.
All too often, people read these
studies and fail to understand the study is doomed from the start.
Had they used something like the
Dyson Airblade, which has achieved National Sanitation Foundation certified
status, the paper towel wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Many studies have since shown that
paper towel and bacteria go together like bread and butter.
Try reading these studies and you’ll
think twice about using paper towel in the restroom as a hand drying solution:
So the next time somebody says
paper towel is the cleanest method to drying hands… send them to this page so
they can learn the truth.
Note: We do not want to discourage
all paper towel use!
could benefit by using a paper towel dispenser near the door as many people
prefer not to touch the door handle.
The amount of money a company can
save over paper towel is eye-opening.
For example, visit Excel Dryer’s
cost savings page.The cost savings for each
manufacturer’s high speed energy efficient models will be very comparable.
Hand Dryers vs. Paper Towels
- Hand Dryers are maintenance-free
- Paper Towels can create unpleasant messes and overflowing trash cans
- Paper Towel must be replenished and costs never end
- Hand Dryers last 7-10 years and pay for themselves in a matter of a few months
- Hand Dryers improve paper towel mess
- Paper Towel Dispensers often run out of paper towels
- Hand Dryers save millions of trees per year
- Reducing the use of paper towel also reduces land-fill space