Green Machines: The Economic and Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Laundries
By Joseph Ricci President & CEO, TRSA | May 18, 2014
Hotels, like many businesses, have long embraced the concept of sustainability as public demand for green business practices has risen. The general public is now more educated on the subject and has developed higher standards. They don't want changes that do little more than give businesses a green veneer. They want to see substantive initiatives that make lasting gains towards environmental sustainability. These changes are not always as charming as bamboo flooring, but could have a greater impact.
Sustainable laundry practices are one such change. Laundries may not be the first area that comes to mind when considering sustainable business practices, but hotels can make significant environmental and financial gains by reconsidering their internal laundry operations. Sustainable laundry services create energy and water savings, reduce labor costs and provide a genuine green boost when incorporated into consumer marketing-all without resorting to the greenwashing the public has come to loathe.
Laundry Operations Eat Up Hotel Resources
Because laundry is not a hotel's core business, it is easy to overlook the true environmental and financial impact of operating an on-premise laundry (OPL). Having clean linen is just a given, and hotels do not look at laundry as a way to reduce costs or their ecological footprint. It often seems like enough to give guests the option to hang their towels rather than have them cleaned every day.
But water scarcity, pollution and carbon dioxide emissions are a serious concern across the country, and hotels are seeking to do their part in mitigating these environmental impacts. At the same time, hotels are looking for ways to save on operations costs as the price of improving and running their businesses increase. Consider this: Running at 65 percent occupancy, a 400 room hotel with an average of 11 pounds of linen per room needs to launder an average of 1,043,000 pounds of linen per year. That adds up to a lot of resources used, both environmental and financial.
According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hotels and lodging businesses account for about 15 percent of the total water consumed in commercial and institutional settings in the United States. Though restrooms, landscaping and kitchen functions combined use the most water, a significant 16 percent of water used in hotels is used for laundry.
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