When it comes to paper towels, the most obvious issue is the amount of paper which is used for their production. Did you know that the production of 1 tonne of paper requires 17 trees? This would make a lot of paper towels, but with so many businesses ordering them across the globe, the impact to our environment is massive. On top of this, the pulping of a tonne of paper will also pollute up to 20,000 gallons of water, on top of the fumes and other pollutants released during the manufacturing process.

It is possible to manufacture paper towels from recycled paper, which reduces energy consumption by around 40%. However, no paper towels can be recycled after use. Instead they end up in landfill, with one tonne of paper taking up three cubic yards of landfill.

Add to this the pollution released during the transport of heavy logs and large quantities of paper towels, and it’s clear to see why hand dryers may be the more eco friendly option. Although their various metal and plastic components require a significant amount of energy to produce, these omissions will be offset by the fact that a typical hand dryer will last for over a decade.

On top of this, today’s eco-friendly hand dryers are designed with maximum efficiency in mind. Hands are dried in as little as 10 seconds, with a minimal amount of electricity used. Research by MIT found that the powering of eco friendly hand dryers like the Dyson Airblade and Bremmer AIRBoost will release 4-6g of CO2 per year, whereas the production and transport of virgin and recycled paper towels uses around 15g.

This would suggest that electric hand dryers are by far the more environmentally friendly option, but to be absolutely sure, we need to consider any other energy costs. Once a hand dryer has been installed, it will have no environmental impact aside from its running. On the other hand, the regular use of paper towels requires a number of other energy-consuming processes.

Once a paper towel has been used, it’s normally placed into a waste paper bin. These bins are lined with plastic carrier bags, which are themselves manufactured by environmentally harmful industrial processes. These plastic bags full of paper towels must then be transported to landfill sites in large vehicles, which will also release harmful CO2 emissions.

With all things considered, it is clear that electrical hand dryers offer a far less environmentally damaging option than using paper towels. They may need energy to run, but with the massive environmental impact of the manufacturing and transport of paper towels, they remain the ideal choice for eco friendly businesses.