IoT-equipped or not, zero-waste dispensers offer facilities obvious advantages over their more conventional counterparts. Perhaps among the most compelling is the ability to create a more sustainable building.

“Waste reduction is an important part of a facility’s environmental goals,” says Howard. “Drying hands with less toweling per pair of hands is usage reduction and less trash is created. The EPA prioritized ‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle’ in that order, so usage reduction is the highest benefit.”

And this benefit can be substantial. Figures provided by Vitali, estimate that 13 billion tons of paper towel waste wind up in landfills every year — making it essential, he says, that facilities work to implement solutions that can reduce the volume of paper towel waste by preventing overuse and educating customers about the value of using less. They’re likely to find a receptive audience.

“Research shows that consumers expect businesses to improve their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts and push for environmental change,” says Vitali. “A clean restroom is essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and securing repeat business. Taking steps to reduce the impact that restroom products have on the environment can also go a long way for a business’s reputation when facilities educate customers about their efforts.”

Because zero-waste dispensers with their controlled dispensing can effectively address environmental concerns and shrinking budgets, they’re experiencing increased demand, says Corcos. This equipment ensures optimal dispensing at time of use, preventing over-consumption and waste and eliminating the problem of hand towels falling to the floor or countertops. By eliminating stub rolls, restroom hygiene is improved, Corcos adds, since these are often placed unprotected on the top of a conventional dispenser; a benefit also fueling the popularity of zero-waste dispensers as guests and tenants become more focused on facility hygiene.

It’s also important to appreciate the role paper quality plays in waste and cost reduction, says Mowbray, explaining that, contrary to the beliefs held by some, purchasing poor-quality, lower-priced products can actually increase costs.

“For example, using a very low-cost hand towel product can result in compatibility issues with the dispenser, leading to wasted product,” he says. “Lower-quality towels are often not manufactured with cutting-edge technology, leading to lower absorbency and poor performance. As a result, people will often instinctively use more towels than they normally would with a slightly better product.”

The implications can be “serious” Mowbray continues, resulting in higher usage and not just of the towels, but of can liners as well. Plus, the custodial staff has to fill the dispenser more frequently and waste disposal bills rise.

Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelancer based in Long Beach, California. 

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