High speed hand dryers are better for the environment than paper towels, according to a number of studies that used LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) assessments to compare the two popular methods of drying hands.

The studies compared the impact of electric dryers associated with generating and using electricity against the impact and emissions related to paper towel production, manufacturing and disposal. High speed electric dryers were found to be a more environmentally conscious method of drying hands than paper towels.

Results continued to favour the dryer even when fewer than two towels per dry were used; the electric dryer also won over paper towels, which were 100% recycled, both in manufacturing and disposal.

Global GreenTag CEO David Baggs explains that LCA enquiry provides the most robust form of assessment to evaluate environmental impacts. 

According to Baggs, LCA assessment is a vigilant template of enquiry to support the environment, which has been eroded significantly because of years of poor human choices. He described LCA as a system that sought out the truth, interrogating factors that include global warming potential, land use, water use, solid waste, ecosystem quality, human health and embodied carbon as well as measuring life cycle benefits such as carbon sequestration, and oxygen or water generating potential. 

In this instance, LCA assessments have helped prove that using a high speed dryer significantly reduces environmental impact in comparison with conventional dryers and paper towels.