Outsourcing Increases Sustainability Through Volume Production

By Joseph Ricci President & CEO, TRSA | May 07, 2017

Economics and sustainability are inextricably linked and their bond is growing tighter. It’s long been true that the fewer natural resources you deplete, the less it costs you. Because large commercial laundries use mass-production technologies that conserve supplies and labor, hotels save significantly by outsourcing instead of operating on-premises laundries ( OPLs ). It’s better for the environment and a hotel’s bottom line.

This economic benefit will get even better in coming years. Water and electricity aren’t getting any cheaper. While scarcity creates economic pressure where not enough supply is available to meet high demand, even conservation can raise costs. Our TRSA members ( outsourced laundries ) and other industrial users of sewer systems have experienced this with local publicly owned treatment works ( POTWs ).

High-volume wastewater dischargers are large water users so they are focused on reducing consumption. In using less fresh water, their sewage discharges are less diluted ( i.e., more concentrated ), which creates economic challenges for POTWs:

  • Less revenue, as they bill dischargers based on gallons discharged to them
  • Higher infrastructure expense for technology to treat more concentrated wastestreams

Michigan State University forecasts a 41 percent increase in the cost of water over the next five years. The price of natural gas rose 72 percent in the six months between April and October 2016 and is anticipated to rise another 4 percent by 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Administration, with electricity prices on the same growth path.

A hotel will shoulder these burdens on its own for linen processing unless it outsources this function. Linen, uniform and facility services are far more capable of absorbing such price increases. Since the late 1990s, TRSA members have reduced gallons of water needed per pound of laundry 33 percent on average. Some have been able to do 40 to 50 percent better than that. Average energy consumption per pound has fallen 27 percent in that time and some TRSA members have done 30 to 40 percent better than that.

Hotels can be assured of achieving such significant environmental gains in linen processing by contracting with a TRSA-certified Clean Green laundry. To receive this designation, a laundry’s water and energy conservation success must be gauged. The certification aligns with the ASTM International standard, “Guide for Sustainable Laundry Practices, ” which recognizes Clean Green’s key criteria as universal indicators of maximum sustainability in commercial laundry work.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.