An American study has shown that paper towels have the biggest environmental impact, whereas a hand dryer that does not rely on warm air is the most sustainable way to dry hands.
According to the Massachusetts’ university research, paper towels and warm air hand dryers have the highest environmental toll generating 70% or more carbon emissions than a dryer like the Dyson Airblade which uses cool air.
Dyson New Zealand Distributor Brett Avery of Avery Robinson Ltd said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the study, as it was one of the drivers behind the development of the Dyson Airblade.
“While paper towels are the most resource intensive hand drying method, the environmental impact of warm air hand dryers occurs during use,” he said.
“Conventional hand dryers which use warm air often have energy-hungry heating elements and inefficient motors making them less energy efficient.”
In contrast, the Dyson Airblade uses sheets of cool air at high speed to scrape water away from hands.
Brett said he believes that paper towels and warm air hand dryers are from a bygone era and businesses that are serious about protecting the environment needed to embrace new technology.
“People want to dry their hands quickly, completely and without damaging the environment.
“It’s alarming to think that if every New Zealander visited the bathroom just once a day for a year and used two paper towels each time, there would be enough paper waste to cover Eden Park’s number one field, eight times over.”
Despite public perception that recycled paper towels are better for the environment, the report’s researchers also found that the environmental impact of recycled towels is just as bad as that of virgin paper towels.