Green hand dryers at the USDA
Once every two weeks, janitors at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) break open a new pallet of paper towels they will use to fill dispensers in 100 restrooms. The restrooms are scattered along seven miles of corridors throughout the USDA complex in Washington. Those pallets of towels equal at least two tons of paper a month — more than 24 tons a year. It’s no wonder that waste reduction is the USDA’s highest priority, when it comes to going green.
Although much of the USDA’s waste reduction plan involves recycling, officials took a major step toward stopping waste at its source by installing 20 high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers in restrooms throughout the USDA headquarters. The USDA reports seeing an immediate 50-percent reduction in the use of paper towels.
All told, officials say the high-speed hand dryers are:
• Eliminating more than five tons of paper towel waste per year
• Lowering the cost of purchasing paper towels
• Reducing paper towel disposal fees
• Improving bathroom hygiene; there are now fewer wet paper towels trapping germs and overflowing onto the bathroom floor
The agency has targeted the biggest contributors to its waste stream, and high on the list is janitorial services and the costs of supplying restrooms with paper towels. In fact, paper towels cost more than any other restroom supply or product.
Overall, the combined waste reduction efforts of USDA employees has reduced trash pickups at the USDA complex from five to four per week, according to the most updated information posted on the USDA web site.
By reducing the total number of trash pickups, the USDA has:
• Eliminated 52 round trips to the USDA headquarters by big-rig diesel trucks
• Reduced the amount of diesel fuel being used
• Lowered airborne emissions of diesel exhaust and particulate pollution
• Cut greenhouse gas emissions from trucks traveling to the dump
• Reduced the amount of trash going into local landfills
• Saved $30,000 in dumpster fees
Removing paper towels and rolling out high-speed hand dryers remains a growing part of the agriculture department’s overall waste reduction program. Officials plan to continue installing XLERATOR hand dryers throughout USDA headquarters as they move ever closer to paper-free restrooms.
East Longmeadow, Mass.-based Excel Dryer, Inc. provided this case study. The company’s XLERATOR hand dryers are installed in many high-traffic government restrooms, including federal destinations such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (Volpe Center); several facilities in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and numerous federal prisons. XLERATOR is the official hand dryer specification of U.S. Navy vessels. The dryers are currently installed on the USS Nimitz, USS Fitzgerald and USS Lincoln. The company’s GSA contract number is GS-07F-0017T.