How can you reduce the amount of washroom paper towel waste?

You will most probably have seen that we are mainly a hand dryer promoter here at Intelligent Hand Dryers.  However, we are a “hand drying” company which means we do have a soft spot for anything that does the job well.  We just actively promote the most sustainable and environmentally friendly options for drying the hands, most of the time.

We are not totally against paper towels, everybody has a preference and they do have a purpose in some locations, especially because they create zero noise.  Although there are now a number of good performing hand dryers on the market which are quiet, there is yet to be one that is totally noise free and still dries the hands effectively.

So how can we make your common paper towel have less of an impact on the environment? Not to mention less of an impact on your budgets by how much a year these cost to replenish! Well, the answer lies in how many paper towels are unnecessarily used.  Instead of taking 1 paper towel to dry the hands, people take 3, 4 and 5 to get the job done.  Not just by choice either, I’m sure you have all been in a situation where you go to grab 1 paper towel and a few more follow in the process as they are bunched up inside the dispenser.

Not only does this create unnecessary waste, it causes bins to overflow with contaminated material much quicker. It also means the dispensers have to be constantly filled up.  If there isn’t someone around to do it, then it means wet hands which are a breeding ground for germs.  Not to mention that more paper ends up in land fill, which creates a lot of greenhouse gasses which are no good for the environment.

Also, if they are wasted it means more need to be purchased, which creates more of a demand at source.  The more paper towels that are being produced and transported around the world, the more carbon that is being put into the air.

So how can you limit the amount of paper you use for drying your hands each time?

R. P. Joe Smith has produced a great Ted Talk on how to make sure only 1 paper towel is needed to completely dry the hands.  See this below.

The highlights of the video are:

  • 13 billion lbs of paper towels are used every year in America alone
  • If each person in US could reduce their paper towel usage to 1 paper towel per day, 571,230,000 lbs would be saved
  • The key is the technique of “shake” and “fold”
  • Shake the hands 12 times after using water – see the video to find out why this exact number
  • The fold is important as it creates “interstitial suspension”, so improves the absorption of water by the towel.

But how can you make sure that each and every time, only 1 paper towel comes out of a dispenser?

Bobrick have an innovative accessory called the TowelMate, which are made from 60-70% recycled stainless steel.  These can be retrofitted into a number of different size towel dispensers including other non Bobrick products.  They're included as standard in most of their flagship units, including the Bobrick B-38030 Recessed 3 in 1 Hand Dryer Combination Unit 

They support a wide range of paper towel sizes and stops the ends from tabbing and tearing.  TowelMate reduces paper towel waste by 20% – 40% and complies with the US EPA Reduce & Reuse Resource Conservation Initiative.

It works by having a L-Shape return on the left of the accessory which holds the towels in place so they are not free to move around. A rod placed at the bottom, where the towel is dispensed, ensures that only 1 piece is taken each time.

It has a very easy installation process, not requiring any tools.  You simply remove the existing towel holder from inside the dispenser and then fix the new TowelMate in place using adhesive strips.  Different sized TowelMate’s are available to match the size of your current dispenser.


For more information or for help in finding your ideal hand dryer or washroom product, please call us UK offices: North: 0114 3540047 South: 0203 3270448; Eire office: +353 19036387, use our contact us page by clicking here or click to visit the website.  You can also use our Intelligent Search Tool that helps you identify the perfect dryer for your location by clicking here.

In the trade? Don't forget we can set you up with a trade account for your purchases.

We have wholesaler, contractor, public sector and charity discounts available, please don't hesitate to ask or find out more information by clicking here.



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Written by: James Marvin

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