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Sustainable laundry practices to help reduce your carbon footprint

According to the Carbon Trust, the UK industrial laundries sector is responsible for 25% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions, processing approximately 743,651 tonnes of laundry each year.

To help achieve the government’s target for net zero emissions by 2050, we need to re-evaluate laundry processes to reduce our carbon footprint. Taking measures to reduce energy and water usage alone aren’t enough; we need to be taking a holistic approach to truly address the issue and make better choices for the environment in the long term. Wondering where to start? Consider the following factors.

1. In-house, under control
Rather than outsourcing laundry to external agencies, which can increase carbon emissions through washing operations and transport costs, consider bringing laundry in-house. This offers more control over washing cycles by enabling users to set programmes that minimise the amounts of energy and water used. Not only that, it can reduce outsourcing costs, amounting to significant savings in the long term.

2. Choosing the right appliances
It goes without saying that energy and water efficiency should be a key consideration when purchasing new appliances, but machine lifespan and a good service record are also important things to look out for. The longer your equipment lasts, the less waste you’ll be sending to landfill and the greater your return on investment. Similarly, the less parts that need replacing on your machine, the less you need to dispose of and the smaller the dent on your pocket! If you’re replacing an existing machine, look for a provider that collects and recycles your old machine as part of the deal.

3. Consider load ratios
While opting for a machine with a large load ratio essentially means more laundry per wash, it’s important to get the balance right. Maximising output for each wash essentially results in less water and energy usage, but overloading a machine can mean that the load doesn’t get a thorough-enough clean. It’s likely that the load will then need to be rewashed, unnecessarily increasing consumption.

4. Using the right programmes
Most modern commercial washers and dryers come with numerous different settings and programmes, and it’s key to understand and take advantage of the range of programmes available to minimise energy consumption and utility bills. It’s important to make sure staff are informed and well trained on the different settings so items are only being washed for as long as, and at the temperature they need.

5. Use residual moisture to your advantage
Ensuring that laundered items aren’t left ‘too dry’ can be a great ally – both in terms of ease and eco-friendliness. Most commercial dryers feature this as a setting; allowing the user to leave a small amount of moisture in the washing to make items easier to iron than if they are bone dry. This also ensures that the laundry isn’t using energy unnecessarily by over-drying everything.

6. Better care of linens
As waste reduction is only becoming more important, we need to pay attention not only to the longevity of our laundry appliances, but also how well they care for the materials they’re washing. The quality of equipment can have a significant impact on this, and some machines include technology proven to reduce damage to common materials throughout the cycle. As a result, linens can last longer, preventing it from adding to landfill so soon.

7. Chemical considerations
While washing chemicals aren’t known for being eco-friendly, they’re a necessity for most commercial washing environments and also remove reliance on high temperature washes, which use more electricity for heating. However, to avoid over-use of these chemicals or user error, look out for commercial machines which are fitted with automated dispensers; ensuring only the precise necessary amount is used per wash.

Making more sustainable choices in your laundry is not only beneficial for the environment, but also for operational efficiency and your business’ pocket. Your commercial laundry expert should be able to help you select the right equipment for your business and ensure you’re running it in the most eco-friendly way possible. This can make teams more productive, reduce operational costs, and improve quality of wash while helping you meet sustainability targets.

 Written by Clare Humphrey, Category Manager at the Professional Division of Miele.

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