A string of recent Life Cycle Analysis studies have brought new evidence to the paper towels versus hand dryers debate and it appears that, contrary to popular belief, electricity powered hand dryers might actually be better for the environment after all.
The LCA studies compared the environmental impact of electric hand dryers on the measures of electricity generation and use, to the impact and emissions created during paper towel production, manufacturing and disposal. The results found that electrical high-speed sensor hand dryers are better for the environment than paper towels.
But that’s not to say electrical hand dryers are right for all projects. Speed, ease of use and environmental impact are all important considerations, but so too is hygiene.
The importance of hand hygiene has been around since 1847 when Hungarian physician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis discovered that the instances of Puerperal Fever could be drastically reduced through the simple method of hand washing/disinfection.
Today, hygiene and hand washing is ever more important, especially in the health and aged care sector where overlooking basic hand washing and drying could significantly and negatively impact patient or occupant health. This is backed by studies from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Mayo Clinic which suggest the transmission of bacteria was more likely in instances of washed but undried hands. Hand dryer manufacturer Dyson have also backed these studies by suggesting that the drying of hands is just as important as washing, as damp hands can spread up to 1000 times more bacteria to the surfaces they touch.
While there haven’t been as many studies done on the benefits of hand drying, it is important to note that not all methods of hand drying are equal in effectiveness or environmental impact. The high speed electronic hand dryers are currently considered a more environmentally friendly option when compared to the process of creating and life cycle of a paper towel, but they are not proven to be better dryers than paper towels.
Many electric hand dryers have features such as high speed airflow, reduced wattage of the heating element and smart motor/ air stream design.
The following is a guide to sensor electronic hand dryers available in the Australian market based on its environmental impact.
Note: this guide is only that- a guide and all information below is based on calculated estimates based on information and technical specifications readily available to the public.
Dyson Airblade by Dyson
The Dyson range of Airblade dryers produces up to 76 per cent less carbon dioxide than paper towels. Along with the use of HEPA filtered air, hands are dry within a 10 – 12 second drying process ensuring the 99.9% of bacteria is removed from the air. Dyson Airblade dryers use 1.6kwh per dryer.
The Mediflow range of sensor hand dryer’s ideal for use in high traffic and is faster drying than most conventional models. Mediflow logic dry has a range of total power operation and can use anywhere from 0.25 to 2.75kwh.
Jet Dryer’s Executive 2 model hand dryer dries hands in around 10 seconds and includes a replaceable hepa filter for filtering air and removing bacteria. The risk of wet floors and slippage is reduced with the water capture tray. The Executive 2 dryer uses between 0.7- 1 kwh per dryer.
With a high air velocity, the Zip Quick dry dries hands at a super-fast rate of between 12-15 seconds. A shorter dry cycle assists in reducing energy consumption. Zip Quick dry uses 1.1kwh per dryer.
Ergonomic and high speed- the Tri-Umph automatic hand dryer from ASI JD Macdonald achieves fast drying time and eliminates 99 per cent of bacteria through its filter system. Tri-Umph uses 1.6kwh per dryer.
The Eco hand dryer is the most efficient dryer on offer from Cannon Hygiene. The design is both compact and stylish and offers many energy savings. The Eco hand dryer uses 0.9kwh per dryer.
Working to dry hands quickly, the Jet towel slim series removes water and dries hands from 9 seconds and waste water is collected in a drain tank. The advanced motor technology ensures low energy consumption with the various models using between 0.55- 1.24 Kwh per dryer.
Bobrick Trim dry supplied by RBA Group
Quick drying in under 25 seconds and sensor operated with dual air outlets the Bobrick Trim dry from RBA Group provide a swirling circulation of airflow for comfortable hand dryer. The 208–240Volt dryer models uses between 1.4-1.9kwh per dryer.