Paper towels are thrown out after one use and the bacterium from the person’s body, which has been carried on from previous activities has now spread into that restroom. Paper towels are expensive to make and buy; the amount of labor needed to maintain a restroom is high, and there is pollution created from disposing paper towels. These are all reasons why the use of hand dryers is better alternatives for school and university facility owners and managers. Paper towels spreading bacteria is a health issue that affects not only the students and faculty of schools, but the people in our community. Not only will switching from paper towels to hand dryers be a health benefit, it will also be a financial and environmental benefit to the community, as well as and the state of New Jersey.
Trees are being cut down every day, even as we speak, to make paper towels that we will use once and dispose of immediately. This waste goes to landfills and causes pollution. Three thousand tons of paper towel waste is used in the United States alone. To make one ton, seventeen whole trees and 20,000 gallons of water are needed (Huffington Post, 2011). This would lead to deforestation and eventually global warming. “Source reduction is the big issue. With paper towels you have a waste product that must be disposed of. This issue has become an even bigger concern in Europe, where there is less land-fill space to begin with. They are looking for every avenue to avoid creating waste”(Enderle, J., 2001). David Ring, Vice President of sales and service for World Dryer, says there are more environmental advantages to hand dryers. Problems with the environment and deforestation have become bigger issues to the world within the past few years. Paper towels cannot be recycled. Once they are used, they must go to landfills. The U.S. already has multiple landfills, most of which are already full. Hand dryers not only reduce the need for landfills, but also reduce the number of trees being cut to produce paper towels.
Rutgers University consists of five different campuses located in Piscataway and New Brunswick. This school hosts thousands of students and hundreds of faculty. It costs a lot to maintain a school this big. Paper towel dispensers, especially in popular and crowded buildings and classrooms that are frequently used, have to be constantly checked up on, and refilled or fixed when broken. This wastes time and money of this school. Whereas hand dryers will always be ready to work and should be able to run for at least three to five years with almost no problems. Newer models work faster and are much more efficient than paper towels. “A 2002 study conducted by Franklin Associates and Sylvatica, Inc. measured the energy use of paper towels. It found the energy used to harvest raw materials and manufacture paper towels to be as high as 131 mega joules per kilogram. Many models of hand dryers do not even use this much energy. Additional environmental costs include deforestation, pollution, and air pollution from pulp and paper mills” (Gagnon, D, 2007). Dryers have greatly improved throughout the years, and it is no longer difficult to find models effective enough so that students and faculty who use the restroom don’t have to finish the drying process by wiping their hands on their pants. “Newer dryers can blast off loose droplets of water and evaporate the film left behind in 10 to 15 seconds” (Gagnon, D, 2007).
The amount of money to make paper towels, the amount of work needed in keeping restrooms stocked, and the waste created from disposing paper is too high. Gagnon says his company has done studies that show that schools save thousands of dollars every year by installing hand dryers. The use of hand dryers is a greener alternative for school and university facility owners and managers. “The initial cost of a hand dryer is going to be more than a package of paper towels, and probably more than the towel dispenser they are loaded into. But over time, the cost of using paper – buying and stocking the product and hauling away the waste – adds up” (Gagnon, D., 2007). Ring says that his company’s studies have shown that the average school sees payback in 12.24 months, and he expects that figure to become lower in the future. It is estimated that an average school will save $12,000 per year over paper towel costs. So that district and or area with around 30 schools would be saving so much money they could be using one books, technology, transportation, or security.
Various schools all over the country have been switching over from using paper towel dispensers to all different types and models of warm air or electric hand dryers. This movement has reached all grade-levels from elementary schools to universities everywhere. Schools, and the states they are in, have been seeing drastic changes in their budgets and more saving because of this alteration. According to Ring, an average school that using about 30 dryers is saving 17 trees per year from being used to produce the paper towels. “Spread that out to an average district with 30 schools, and that is quite an environmental savings in trees and landfill space.” He adds that the amount of yearly paper towel waste created by said school will amount to about three cubic yards of landfill space. “Take that, times the number of schools throughout the United States – it’s quite an environmental impact”(Gagnon, D., 2007).
Not only would switching to hand dryers at Rutgers benefit the students and faculty but entire population and the school itself. Paper towels in restrooms of crowded classroom and buildings lead to unsanitary conditions that will keep the occupant from using said restroom; bathrooms with hand dryers are usually much cleaner. There are five different campuses and around a hundred different buildings, stores, halls, and offices with bathrooms filled with paper towels. The students and faculty at this institution go on the same buses, use the same classrooms, and go to the same restrooms. With bacteria in larger amounts, it is very easy for a huge group of kids to catch a sickness that one student has, regardless if they knew each other or not, from just using the same restroom. With the use of hand dryers, there is not much to handle, so the spread of bacteria would be much less. By switching to hand dryers three different areas of problems at Rutgers is being affected: environmentally, hygienically, and financially.