Hand dryers and paper towels are both widely used to dry your hands after washing. But when it comes to the environment, which is better? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each type of technology, so you can make an informed decision about which option is best for your business’s sustainability goals.
Table of Contents
1. Environmental Impact
Modern hand dryers are considered more eco-friendly compared to paper towels. Paper towels demand energy for production, shipping, and disposal with each use. In contrast, cool jet-air hand dryers function rapidly and require little energy per use since they use air power to drive water off the hands rather than an energy-consuming heating agent.
What about paper towels? Considering the number of landfills that they fill and the energy they use for transportation, we can say that hand dryers win the battle of eco-friendliness. They generate fewer carbon emissions since they use less energy.
What about recycled paper towels? Do they exist? We can say that even when people produce towels from recycled paper, paper towels cannot be recycled. Why? Unused paper towels are too short for making new paper and used towels are contaminated with grease and food. Moreover, these towels also have chemicals that make them efficient to dry hands without crumbling to pieces. This way, many towels appear in landfills and harm the environment. So, when thinking of commercial hand dryer options, you should consider energy-efficient hand dryers that are far better than traditional ones and most importantly are more eco-friendly.
Generally, paper towels are considered more hygienic than hand dryers. Hospitals and other healthcare institutions usually install paper towels instead of hand dryers.Paper towels totally remove bacteria from hands when people wash and dry their hands with them. In contrast, when using air dryers, most users don’t wait until their hands are entirely dry. This way, they spread bacteria and germs, since moisture is the best place for viruses to spread. Though, we cannot overlook the fact that modern and newer hand dryers dry hands very quickly and use less energy.
So, if the above-mentioned statement about traditional hand dryers were true, it definitely doesn’t apply to new hand dryers. If you care for your hygiene, always wash your hands properly and dry them afterwards to prevent the transmission of germs. Use paper towels or modern hand dryers equipped with HEPA filters that are made based on hygiene standards and eliminate 99% of particles.
No matter which drying method you select, you must keep in mind that if you don’t properly wash your hands, it will be useless. Since proper hand washing is the most crucial aspect of maintaining good hand hygiene.
It may not be surprising that from the aspect of energy consumption, paper towels waste more energy than hand dryers. Compared to hot air dryers, paper towels can require three times more electricity. Modern, fast, and energy-efficient hand dryers dry hands in around 10 seconds, which is quite close to the time it takes to dry your hands with paper towels. Along with packaging, shipping, and disposal, the production of paper towels requires additional energy.
You may think that hand dryers are a more expensive option, but they’re not. In fact, they’re cheaper to buy and maintain than paper towels. On average, paper towels are 95% more expensive than hand dryers. When you buy paper towels, you pay for the product itself and also for shipping. Paper towel rolls also need to be replaced regularly as soon as there are signs of wear on them. This is something retailers have to deal with constantly. Hand dryers never run out of power so there aren’t any replacement costs associated with them — just regular maintenance like changing filters every few months. Modern hand dryers have lower maintenance costs.
Which One to Choose?
Depending on the factors mentioned above, all you have to do is compare the benefits and drawbacks of each option. If you want a drying option for medium or high-traffic areas, such as large offices or gyms, it’s better to choose modern hand dryers, since they have lower costs, are more energy-efficient, and eco-friendly. While, if your office is small or you work somewhere with low traffic levels or somewhere related to food preparation or healthcare, you can go with paper towels.
The choice is yours. Double-check the article once you want to decide which one is better for your needs. We hope this blog has helped you better understand the environmental impact of hand dryers and paper towels.