A conventional laundry system uses around three gallons of water for every linen processed and this eventually leads to a much higher energy consumption in the process. The wastewater released from such systems contains chlorine, alkali, acid, surfactant, soil, BOD, COD & VOCs. This calls for increased water treatment, requiring additional energy to filter it. This is where ‘green laundry’ comes into the picture.
‘Green’ determines the ‘Eco’ quality of a system based on the measuring parameters – energy, carbon footprints, water (considering that usable water is limited) and environmental quotient. Thus, for a system to be cent percent green, the net harm to the environment must be zero, inhibiting the use of harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde that causes cancer (EPA reports).
New technologies, be it compressed heat pump technology, ozone laundry system, use of windmills or solar panels on the roof have made ‘green laundry’ adoptable and feasible. Some of the recent advancements such as flying windmills powered by nano-tethered tubes, affordable solar panels and wave energy, have made hotels nearby sea to consider economically attractive green fuels.
Current Indian Scenario
Most of the hotels still have the traditional laundry systems that contribute to increased expenses owing to high labour cost, energy waste, water waste and waste recycling costs. In recent years, Indian hotels have shown an increment in green practices. Sincere approach is being shown in terms of green packaging, wastewater control with installation of Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) at the premises and energy savings by proper scheduling of the laundry operations. Green Clean Laundry Services, is a service provider that has managed to reduce water waste and electricity through the installation of latest equipment. Vimlesh Ojha, Manager, Green Clean, says, “We have installed the latest washing machines and dryers with 5 star benchmark in power saving. To reduce water waste we do promote dry wash over wet wash. We have managed to reduce use of chemicals too. Further to this, we have strictly restricted the use of polybags in packaging and paper use in the premise.”
Green Hashtags and certifications such as Green Hotel, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) and ISO 50001 have inspired hotels and laundry manufacturers/service providers to take the necessary steps as per their capabilities. A few hotels have also shown some bold steps by installing windmills and solar panels on their roofs.
In laundries, hotels have started buying concentrated chemicals thereby reducing extra packaging and carbon footprints. Raja Ram Shah, Laundry Manager, Imperial, Delhi, says, “Yes, we have been using concentrated chemicals which not only improve the green quotient but are also cost effective. We have our own ETP installed and the recycled water is used for watering our garden. To enable us to reach the next green level, we have our plans to restructure and improvise the whole laundry system.”
Aslam Khan, Laundry Manager, The Taj, Chandigarh adds, “With a daily washing of 1,000kg of linen & garments, and traditional washing machines in place, we concentrate more on saving energy, water or other wastes. We have two dryers and two washing machines. All these work on electricity. We have installed our own treatment plant to recycle wastewater which is further used in parks and garden.”
Indian hotels so far have worked more on the improvisation of the current system and less on the technology aspects of the laundry system that could have helped them achieve significant green quotient enabling to turn the chapter from ‘3R’ to ‘Conserve, Save & Green’.
Heat Pump Technology – The patented compression technology converts and condenses the wasted heat created by drying laundry into a usable form of energy. The energy is then reutilised. The process is recursive which zeroes the energy waste. The auto-recursion is managed through an intelligent controller that monitors the humidity of cloths generating less lint and gentler linen and cloths. The advanced dry technology is yet to see its application in India.
Ozone Laundry – Ozone laundry uses electricity and oxygen to wash cloths/linens thereby replacing chemicals that are used in conventional laundry. The active nascent oxygen reacts with contaminated compounds and precipitates them. The ozone generation itself is a lot more energy efficient than heating water in conventional laundry.
OPTidry™ technology – Patented by Unimac, OPTidry is an industry exclusive, cutting-edge innovation that connects the sensors to transfer switch technology enabling the system to sense dryness levels thousands of times per second for ultra-accurate readings. The pinpoint moisture throughout the entire load eliminates the costs associated with over-drying.
Going Green Saga
Studies suggest that green laundry is 40% more cost effective than that of traditional one enthusing the laundry managers to plan for it. Being the backdoor process, Indian firms do hesitate to invest a sizeable budget in laundry section. Having said that, it is worth noting that some equipment manufacturers do install machines without any cash payment but share a part of the profit. Hence by merely spending some time on this backdoor process planning and strategy, a lot can be achieved.