Airblade hand dryers have been found to be the most sustainable way to completely dry hands, according to a study by a leading Massachusetts-based research university.
The research study, commissioned by Dyson involved a comprehensive lifecycle analysis (LCA) of Dyson Airblade hand dryers, paper towels and warm air hand dryers.
Paper towels and warm air hand dryers were found to have the highest environmental impact, generating 70% or more carbon emissions than the Dyson Airblade hand dryer. The Dyson Airblade hand dryer uses sheets of cool, clean air to literally scrape water from hands.
James Dyson explains that technology has moved on from paper towels and warm air hand dryers with people wanting to dry their hands quickly, completely and without damaging the environment.
Virgin or recycled paper
Contrary to popular perceptions, the environmental impact of recycled towels equals that of virgin paper towels on a number of factors including CO2 emissions and water consumption. Recycled and virgin towels both generate over three times more carbon emissions than the Dyson Airblade hand dryer, creating waste, consuming more energy and using more water.
To have an idea of the magnitude of the problem, the combined paper waste arising out of every person in Australia visiting the restroom just once a day for one year and using two paper towels each time would cover Melbourne Cricket Ground (the biggest stadium in the world at 25,000m²) 26,000 times, or even the entire Sydney Harbour (largest natural harbour in the world at 55km²) 11 times.
In spite of this wastage, paper towels are still widely used in Australia’s public restrooms. But waste accounts for only a fraction of recycled paper’s carbon footprint with 65% created during manufacturing due to the energy, chemicals and water used. Rather than innovate, paper towel manufacturers spend millions opposing stricter environmental rules related to paper manufacturing.
Warm air hand dryers
Unlike paper towels, which can be considered the most resource intensive hand drying method, the environmental impact of warm air hand dryers occurs during use. Energy-guzzling heating elements and inefficient motors are environment-impacting factors, making warm air dryers up to 80% less energy efficient than the Dyson Airblade hand dryer.
The LCA has helped Dyson create high-performing machines that use less materials and less energy, further reducing the environmental impact of its technologies.