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Re: [GreenYes] air hand dryers vs paper towel
Hi Jessica et al;

This topic piqued my curiosity so I tooled around a bit on the web.

Obviously, and predictably, the air dryer companies are big promoters of
their solution as cheaper and better, whilst the paper companies say their
solution is faster and does a better job of cleaning.

If you load your topic into you will get hits on both sides
of the issue.

As a big handed fellow my experience is the hand dryers do indeed take quite
a bit longer than the paper towels do. If, as some claim, the difference is
30 seconds per drying, and if the average employee washes his/her hands four
times a day, then in the course of a fifty week working year, the lost time
is about 8 1/3 hours per employee/year.

Differences in cleanliness are controversial, and the specific situation and
perhaps even on site trials need to be considered.

As it often is, calculating 'net environmental benefit' is not as simple and
straightforward as some would have you think.

And, I also wonder about the 'health issues' of composting paper towels used
to wipe hands. In my opinion there are a number of ways to do this
satisfactorily without generating public health problems, ranging from
in-vessel composting systems that reach specified temperatures for specific
times, to vermicomposting systems that also achieve pathogen control via
worm driven microbiological processes.

In both cases data are available to demonstrate the effectiveness of the
methods to remediate human fecal wastes, thus hand wipings would be even
less of an issue.

A third option suggested in this thread, cloth towels that would be washed
and reused, was described as involving no energy directly except in
transport. From my days as a cotton diaper dad I can assure you that washing
and drying cloth does indeed require energy, both directly and in the form
of products added to the washing and drying cycles.

TANSTAAFL, aka the second law of thermodynamics, has not been repealed and
applies to this and all other issues.

Good luck in your analysis,

Frank Teuton

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jessica North" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 8:54 PM
Subject: [GreenYes] air hand dryers vs paper towel

> Greetings from NZ!
> Would anyone have facts, suggestions, studies, or contacts to help me
> determine whether there is a net environmental benefit to using air hand
> dryers in bathrooms (modern units, low power) vs paper roller towel (35%
> pre-consumer recycled fibre content)?
> The paper towel cannot currently be composted (health issues).
> My understanding is that the air dryers are the preferable option from an
> environmental perspective.
> Many thanks,
> Jessica
> Jessica North - Resource Consultant
> Waste Not Limited
> PO Box 33 1410
> Takapuna, Auckland
> New Zealand
> Ph: 09 486 3635
> Fax: 09 486 5764

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