Why you have to pick up a calculator to dry your hands in a public bathroom
Juan Yuste works as a Facility Manager in a large shopping centre in Madrid. As Facility Manager, he is responsible for managing all the infrastructures and services of this macro-complex, with the aim of optimising all its resources. In other words, he is responsible for managing the various areas of this large space designed for shopping and leisure in order to adapt them to the needs of the commercial hub’s workers and customers, by solving technical problems, optimising resources and making improvements.
Among many other responsibilities, his job involves:
-Budgetary management of the infrastructure and spaces of the shopping centre in order to reach maximum profitability and minimise operating costs.
-Optimising the energy resources of the centre by proposing the most effective and efficient solutions.
-Improving environmental performance and sustainability within the framework of the leisure-commercial space’s Corporate Social Responsibility policy.
Yesterday, Juan Yuste was in one of the more than 30 public bathrooms in the shopping centre. He washed his hands and, when he turned to dry them, he noticed that the toilet had both electric hand dryers and paper dispensers. He froze and wondered: “Which should I choose to dry my hands? Which is the most economical method?” It was at that precise moment when he started to remember the pros and cons of each hand drying method and remembered, for example, that paper towels are made of recycled paper and do not need electricity, especially now the price of energy is through the roof. “Well, great, you’re saved,” he thought. But as he dried his hands with a paper towel, he realised something that made him suddenly stop: the paper, apart from its own cost, involves purchasing, replacement and waste management logistics that hand dryers do not have. So, what’s the bottom line? Which option is the most economical? Which one will save us more money at the end of the year?
Having access to the cost information, Juan immediately carried out a simple comparative exercise. He took as an example for his calculations one of the busiest toilets in the shopping centre. In this toilet, the hand dryers are used 1000 times every day. Based on this daily hand dryer usage, Juan carried out two cost calculations: a) the cost of using paper only and b) the cost of using a hand dryer only. The following information is available to him:
a) Cost of using paper towels only
-Average number of paper towels used each time someone dries their hands = 3
-Number of towels used each day = 3000
-Number of towels used per month (6 day weeks and 4 weeks per month) = 72,000
-Price of 4000 towels = 20.04
-Cost of hand drying with paper = €0.015
-Monthly cost of hand drying = €360/month
b) Cost of using hand dryer only
-Drying time = 8 seconds
-Maximum electrical power price = €0.45765 per kWh
-Monthly cost of hand drying with hand dryer = €36.27/month
The numbers make it clear that hand drying with a new generation electric hand dryer is much more cost-effective than using paper (€36.27/month with an electric hand dryer compared to €360/month for paper). It is also worth noting that the investment for the purchase of the hand dryer is quickly amortised: in less than a month.
Juan Yuste, after this small cost calculation, now knows the truth. New generation hand dryers are much more economical than using paper to dry hands.
The next question that our head Facility Manager asks is: Which of the two methods for hand drying is more environmentally friendly and more sustainable? Bearing in mind that the paper industry is the third most polluting industry on the planet, the question appears easy to answer. We will not cover this debate right now in this post, but it will be the subject of the next article on our blog. So don’t forget to keep up with the questions that our Facility Manager, Juan Yuste, is asking.