Replace Paper Towels With Hand Dryers

Retrofit / Upgrade
Interiors & Purchasing Sustainable Interiors Interior Purchasing

Paper towels often account for 20 to 40 percent of waste (by volume) in commercial buildings. During the course of a year, an employee typically visits the washroom about 1,000 times. Assuming he washes his hands, he'll use paper towels or electric-powered hand dryers. Taking into account the life cycle of the both options, dryers are typically the more environmentally-friendly option – by a wide margin.

This article in Slate Magazine compares the environmental impact of paper towels vs. hand dryers in detail, factoring in the supply chains for each option.

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How it Works

Paper towel dispensers are replaced with electric-powered hand dryers.

How You Save

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that using hand dryers in place of paper towels saves of $2,000 per year (for each hand dryer). Beyond cost savings, hand dryers reduce related greenhouse gas emissions by about half. Finally, modern hand dryers are up to 80% more efficient than traditional hand dryers – it may be practical to retrofit washrooms with older-generation hand dryers installed.

Ideal For

Buildings and spaces that don't already have hand dryers installed, or have older-generation equipment.

Implementation Considerations

Consider strategically placing signage in washrooms that educates occupants on the environmental benefits of using dryers vs. paper towels.