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. Itís 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). Itís better for the environment and a hotelís bottom line.

This economic benefit will get even better in coming years. Water and electricity arenít 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 laundryís water and energy conservation success must be gauged. The certification aligns with the ASTM International standard, ďGuide for Sustainable Laundry Practices,Ē which recognizes Clean Greenís key criteria as universal indicators of maximum sustainability in commercial laundry work.

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Coming up in May 2018...

Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.