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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