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Textile Services Sustainability Continues to Accelerate

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Photo: ©iStockphoto/crossbrain66

Bruce Beggs |

Newest LaundryESP® survey says industry has reached new heights in resource conservation

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The textile services industry has reached new heights in natural resources conservation, according to the latest Laundry Environmental Stewardship Program (LaundryESP®) survey released by the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA).

Responses compiled from 500 U.S. TRSA member facilities indicated that their carbon footprint per pound of laundry is 11% smaller than in 2006, driven by a 14%-per-pound decline in energy use. Water consumption has dropped 6% in that time.

The results emerged on the heels of a study published by a European textile services coalition that concluded the production technology typically used by TRSA members “is the most sustainable way of doing laundry, almost without loss of quality and functionality.”

Such large-scale washing, drying and wrinkle removal is up to three times more sustainable than a domestic laundry process, the European group concluded.

It added that TRSA members’ techniques were also proven up to twice as effective in this respect as on-premise laundries (OPLs).

In terms of carbon footprint (carbon dioxide production), the metric most associated with sustainability, LaundryESP® determined that TRSA member laundries now generate 0.36 pounds of CO2 per pound of laundry washed. That’s a 24% decline since 1997, the first year of data tracking.

This prevents emission of 1.49 billion pounds of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of taking 135,000 typical cars off the road. It would be necessary to plant roughly 30 million trees to achieve a similar reduction.

“LaundryESP® is a testimonial to TRSA members’ commitment to improving their efficiency, which enhances the environment and the economy,” says TRSA President Joseph Ricci. “Sustainability in commerce is not just about expending fewer resources, it means achieving those gains year after year because it’s profitable to do so.”

Businesses that patronize TRSA member facilities deserve much of the credit for the textile services industry’s greater efficiencies, according to Ricci.

“They understand that sending their uniforms, linens, floor mats, towels and other textile products to TRSA members is the most economical way to clean these,” he says. “LaundryESP® proves to our members’ customers that their patronage of TRSA companies is ‘greening’ their own businesses more than ever and enabling our members to continue to be vital corporate citizens in cities and towns across the nation.”

TRSA has prioritized promoting member companies’ services to facilities now using OPLs as well as businesses that could substitute durable, reusable cloth products for the non-launderable or paper equivalents they now buy.

The new research provides up-to-date confirmation that professional uniform service is a pro-environment choice that’s becoming more sustainable, Ricci notes.

The LaundryESP® findings indicate how TRSA members’ resource requirements have dwindled:

  • 2.55 gallons of water per laundered pound, down 33% since 1997, a 9.9-billion-gallon annual differential, or enough to serve the residential purposes of 270,000 people in a year.
  • 2,260 Btu of energy, down 27%, due to declines of 26% in natural gas, 9% in electricity, 81% in propane, 75% in fuel oils, and 30% in all hydrocarbon (production) fuels.

These combined reductions save energy at the rate of 11 trillion Btu per year, or enough to power 116,000 typical U.S. households.

Recent data comparing the sustainability of large-scale TRSA member laundering techniques to domestic and OPL processes were generated by TKT, the research arm of the Dutch national associations for textile services (FTN) and dry cleaning (Netex).

CINET, a council of mostly European national associations, published these studies.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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