Greenwash on hand dryers

Submitted by: T.M. Answered by: Phil Riebel 01/11/2012

Question

The nameplates on electric hand dryers in public restrooms irk me. They claim environmental superiority and tell the user they are saving trees.Has anyone done a life cycle analysis on these things and compared it to a corresponding LCA on paper towels?

Answer

You are not the only person who is annoyed by these claims.  LCA is the right tool to get the full picture and to date I have only seen one or two such studies but I don't believe they had the rigour and peer-review that a proper LCA should have.  I will send you what I have.  From a very general point of view it should be noted that:

- hand dryers are made with non-renewable materials

- they use electricity which is often generated using fossil fuels, especially in the U.S.

- their recycling rate is likely not very good

On these three points alone, the paper industry has a much better story, as explained on our web site.

Thanks for your question.

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