How can distributors help their clients keep building occupants happy? By making sure there’s adequate toweling for heavier traffic. In new construction, this means steering clients toward high-capacity towel dispensers. When repositioning an older building, it means helping clients update or replace existing dispensers.

“Putting more reliable, efficient, hygienic systems in the bathroom is one way property managers can help alleviate some of the challenges that densification creates,” says Butler.

Without distributor guidance, however, some facilities create makeshift solutions. For example, they supplement overworked dispensers by placing extra towel rolls or baskets of multifold towels on the countertops.

“Where you see rolls of paper towels on the sink, that’s somebody who doesn’t understand there are easy options available to retrofit an existing system,” says Corcos.

In the case of smaller restrooms, a countertop dispensing system may be enough to address increased demand. These are more elegant (and less sloppy) solutions, says Corcos, than putting exposed towels near sinks.

More often, though, the best solution to address densification in older buildings is to swap out existing dispensers for new, high-capacity models.
“Most buildings were originally designed with recessed cabinets with an integrated trash bin,” Corcos says “They usually dispensed folded or multifold towels, and the capacity was relatively limited.”

The better option? A roll-towel system, which Butler says reduces usage by 30 percent.

“Roll-towel systems generally control dispensing to reduce paper usage,” says Butler. “Instead of the tenant pulling three to five paper towels, they waive their hand and get a set amount of inches. There can also be delays that help with the instinct to continue to pull more than we need. That allows you to dry more hands than a folded towel would.”

Manufacturers are also beginning to offer thinner, compressed towels that can take up 50 percent less space. This allows a replacement dispenser of a similar size to service more tenants without restocking.

“It also saves space on the cart and in the closet,” says Corcos. “Additional towel use in the restroom puts stress on the dispensers in the restroom, but also on the janitorial carts and the storage closets. The distributors need to offer the best solution to meet all three of those needs and not just one.”

Fewer trips between closet and restroom for restocking also means building service contractors or custodial departments can redeploy labor hours. If the newer system has longer battery life and is less likely to jam, there can be even more labor savings, says Butler.

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Retrofitting Paper Towel Dispensers