CHICAGO — “Going green” in the laundry industry can mean lots of different things. It can relate to using enviro-friendly detergents, installing certain equipment dedicated to conserving energy, or choosing specially constructed textiles. The act of laundering itself is inherently green.
Often, one can discover new ways to improve by watching what their colleagues are doing. So, this month, we’ve profiled some representative laundries of varying types to examine how they’ve made their operations “greener.”THE ROSCOE COMPANY, CHICAGO
The industrial laundry company that has been in business at the same Chicago location for 72 years recently completed a $4 million renovation. President James W. Buik considered putting it off due to the economy, but decided to push forward with the promise of providing “better product quality in a greener facility with less water, energy and chemistry,” he says.
New washers have decreased Roscoe’s use of city water by 100,000 gallons per week, more than a 35% reduction. Water heating, drying and garment finishing require less natural gas.
Skylights have been added, and lighting is more efficient thanks to new bulb technology and motion sensors that automatically turn off fixtures when no one is present. Wash chemistry consists of more biodegradable detergent formulations. Fleet operations require less driving because the company has shuffled stops between delivery routes, setting new schedules for route service representatives.
Roscoe also upgraded its wastewater treatment system. In 1972, it was the first industrial launderer — nationwide — to install such technology, the company claims.
“We have the longest history of anyone in our business of addressing the environmental concerns of our customers,” Buik says. “Today, businesses want to minimize their impact on natural resources. We are proud that with the installation of our new technology, we have been able to quickly become even ‘greener’ on all of our customers’ behalf.”HEALTHWEAR RENTAL, ENDICOTT, N.Y.
President Mark Berghorn’s company focuses on supplying rental linens to private medical practices. He purchased its first washer-extractor with an integrated ozone system, a 60-pound machine from EDRO Corp., in 2007. As his confidence in the technology grew, he decided to add 110-pound and 150-pound EDRO models during the last two years.
Berghorn initially looked into buying a wall-mounted ozone unit, but says he “didn’t want to get married” to the technology if it didn’t meet his needs. Having the ozone system integrated with a washer means he can still use the machine if the ozone unit fails in some way, he says.
But he’s become a believer in using ozone. He estimates his company is now using 60% less detergent and alkali, and says there is less residual moisture in the goods after extraction, which saves on drying-related costs.
As his business has grown — it processes between 10,000 and 25,000 pounds of goods weekly — its water usage has remained constant thanks to ozone washing.
“The cold-water benefits are perfect for our industry, because we’re not getting out grease and oil,” Berghorn says.WEST MICHIGAN SHARED HOSPITAL LAUNDRY,
GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.
Construction is under way on a project that will make the cooperative healthcare facility the first large-scale facility to be 100% “steamless” in North America, according to American Laundry Systems (ALS), which designed the retrofit and a 32,000-square-foot expansion.
The ALS engineers, with the help of Thermal Engineering of Arizona (TEA) and Jensen USA, were able to take advantage of technology proven in Europe and adjust it for application to the North American healthcare laundry market.
The retrofitted plant will:
- Use natural gas to heat as much equipment and water as possible. Gas-fired equipment operates at 95%+ efficiency, while steam-fired equipment is in the 75-80% efficiency range, ALS says.
- Use natural-gas-fired thermal ironers for the finishing department. Thermal ironers (Chicago Dryer Co. equipment was chosen here) can be used with higher temperature and speed (depending on textile quality), resulting in more pieces being processed per hour using the proper feeding devices, ALS says.
Project completion is anticipated this summer.SPRINGHILL SUITES HOUSTON NASA SEABROOK OPL, SEABROOK, TEXAS
The mid-scale, 88-room hotel east of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is slated to open this month, and its on-premise laundry will feature Maytag Commercial Laundry equipment, according to General Manager Terri Akins.
“Once the hotel is up and running, we expect to see an efficiently operated laundry with energy- and water-conserving machines,” Akins says. “Shorter dry times will allow our staff to spend less time waiting on laundry to dry completely and more time helping customers of the hotel.”
The hotel chose two 50-pound, soft-mount, multi-load washer extractors and three 75-pound, front-load dryers.
“Our goal is to help reduce our laundry room’s carbon footprint,” Akins says. “By researching and installing energy-efficient machines, we are doing our part to be environmentally responsible.”