Industries That Benefit From Reusable Textiles
August 10, 2015
As reducing carbon footprints becomes more of a priority, businesses are finding ways to make more socially and environmentally responsible decisions. Taking steps to reduce your company’s disposable waste is one great way to cultivate these greener habits. Through our work, we’ve seen two industries that can financially and ethically benefit from switching to reusable materials in their work.
In the 1960s, disposable gowns, towels, and drapes were introduced to improve hygiene and provide better protection against diseases for both patients and providers, but we’ve come a long way in medical research and prevention since then! Considering this: disposable garments are only worn once, and then incinerated or disposed of in a landfill. Advances in technology over the last 50 years have provided us with reusable items that are just as hygienic as products designed for one-time use. Cloth gowns can be reused at least 50 times before they have to be disposed of, helping to eliminate two percent of all hospital waste.
The other benefits of reusable surgical gowns and textiles over disposable single-use items are proven: They offer enhanced comfort, cost, and performance. When hospitals transition their operating rooms form using disposable gowns to a reusable program, they can reduce waste by 90%. Since OR waste is primarily infectious waste, it costs as much as $0.30 a pound to dispose.
Just like in medicine, manufacturing plants need products that are reliable and sterile. Since the production process is required to meet strict safety guidelines, the use of disposables has become highly prevalent, but manufacturing has the same waste issues that we see with the medical field. In addition to being more environmentally responsible, reusable sterile goggles and mops may offer additional financial benefits. Companies can save up to 30% of their money that would normally be put towards restocking disposable goods just by switching to reusable cleanroom garments, which can make a huge difference for small facilities who spend serious money on waste disposal. Proper washing and drying by a commercial laundry provider, like Australian Uniform, makes it possible for sterile garment options to last their full lifespan.
Reducing the reliance on disposables doesn’t just apply to garments. Manufacturing plants use large machinery that has to be painstakingly cleaned and maintained to remove the oil, greases, and other liquids that come with the territory. Reusable wipes are superior to paper towels in cleaning capability and environmentally-friendliness. They provide better absorbency and are stronger when wet, in addition to saving you money and reducing your plant’s waste.
Now that we’ve debunked the myth that disposables are more sterile than reusable cloths, hopefully you’re ready to make the switch! We’re so excited that we’ll even show you how easy it is to switch.
Here are a few tips to guide you through the transition:
- Identify resources. Is there a green team or an environmental staff person in your building? Enlisting the support of those who believe in the waste reduction benefits of reusable items can help you win over skeptics as well as offer suggestions.
- Prepare an outline comparing disposable products to reusable alternatives. This comparison should include costs, product and barrier attributes, sterilization, laundering costs, and any other services your laundry can provide.
- Start small. You probably aren’t going to convert the entire operating room or manufacturing line from single-use to reusable materials at one time. Begin by converting items that are already running low on stock and ready for reorder. Replacing as you go not only financially manageable, but it also allows you to course correct before you make a large investment.