Back in the early and mid-1990s, companies offering cloth diaper service were battling for their lives against manufacturers of disposable diapers. Many of service providers turned to the environment as a way to promote business. They talked non-stop about the environmental benefits of using cloth diapers over disposables. Unfortunately, though, the strategy failed to sway growing numbers of mothers who preferred the convenience of suddenly cheap disposables.
Today, we are seeing a similar trend in the arena of uniform rental. But this time it is different. Uniform companies are not clinging to the green movement as a means of survival. Rather, they are genuinely changing the way they do things in order to be more environmentally responsible. If they happen to get a business boost as a result, that’s a bonus.
Some of the largest linen and uniform rental services in the country, like Utah-based Alsco for example, see environmental responsibility as a routine part of doing business. Now they are reaching out to customers in an effort to explain to them how they are respecting the environment through their business practices. For better or worse, uniform rentals have entered the age of green.
Uniform Rental Is More Efficient
Commercial laundering has grown up significantly in the last two decades. As such, modern equipment is much more efficient in its water and energy use. With that efficiency is a reduced need for harsh chemicals to get soiled uniforms clean. In fact, a lot of service providers have switched to environmentally friendly detergents and enzyme-based cleaners altogether.
So how does a commercial laundry maximize efficiency? By washing laundry in bulk. New equipment can accommodate larger volumes without a commensurate increase in water and energy use. The more uniforms a company launders, the less costly it is per piece, based on water and energy use.
Service Providers Are Recycling
Most of the green efforts within the commercial uniform industry are thought of in terms of energy use, water consumption, and generated waste. What if someone told you that service providers are also getting on the recycling bandwagon? They are. It turns out there are plenty of recyclable materials in the average laundry industry.
Cardboard boxes, forms, and separators immediately come to mind. So do metal and plastic hangers. Uniform service providers can even recycle old garments and other linens they have on hand. They can recycle the oil from their trucks, the floor mats they rent out and use in their own facilities, and every bit of metal found in their plants. Recycling is a big hit throughout the industry.
Greener Vehicle Choices
The age of green has moved outside the laundry facility and onto the roads, as well. Today’s uniform providers have a larger selection of greener, more fuel-efficient vehicles for delivery. Some companies have elected to go with hybrid vehicles that use both electricity and combustible fuel. Others are transitioning to vehicles powered exclusively by natural gas.
With all the advances we are now seeing in EVs, it is probably only a matter of time before one or two of the nation’s top linen and uniform service providers goes all-electric. Imagine linen trucks traveling through town without putting any emissions into the air. It is coming sooner rather than later.
Earlier iterations of the environmental movement may have been used by linen providers in the past to drum up new business. There is probably still some of that going on today. But by and large, linen and uniform providers are going green because it’s the right thing to do. All of us enjoy the benefits as a result.