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Globally, laundry is a $100 billion industry including both hospitality and commercial cleaners. Despite technological advances in almost every part of our lives, we’ve been doing laundry the same way for over 60 years. And in fact, today’s traditional washing machines serve more as a way to automate the centuries-old process of beating a garment against a rock in a stream. While the water cost continues to increase, it is high time for laundry operators to think of the corporate sustainability.

What if one could do an even better laundry job and use resources more efficiently at the same time?

Xeros polymer bead cleaning can help deliver water and energy savings for a greener clean, while at the same time delivering cleaner laundry. The company, Xeros Inc, has patented the polymer bead technology for commercial laundry and is now introducing it to the hospitality industry in North America and the UK in phases.

Xeros’ polymer bead cleaning solution routinely out performs traditional “soap and water” washing methods. In addition, there are longer-term benefits when it comes to a reduced need for linen replacement. Since tougher stains are more easily removed, hotels deliver cleaner linen to guests and keep inventory in circulation longer.

These savings are not insignificant, given that approximately five million hotel rooms in the US rack up almost $4 billion in energy bills a year, or about $800 per room annually, according to Ashley Katz, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Green Building Council.

By converting in-house laundry operations to a polymer bead washing system, hotels can cut laundry costs by 50% or more with immediate savings in water, energy and detergents

The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that the lodging industry could save $745 million annually by reducing energy use by 10%, however the industry’s sustainability initiatives lag behind other consumer-facing industries, such as retailers and food and beverage companies.

Reducing the use of energy, water and chemicals is essential for the hospitality industry’s sustainability efforts. Typically, green initiatives are something the industry struggles with because they can sometimes cost more money to implement than the traditional way of doing things. However, in the case of commercial laundry, re-examining the technological process for cleaning has resulted in a new innovation that delivers cleaner laundry in a greener way – at a lower cost than traditional washing machines. By converting to a Xeros’ polymer bead cleaning solution, hotels are able to highlight their commitment to the environment and advance their standing as a “green” hotel while saving money at the same time. An eco-friendly laundry system can support these green initiatives.

Polymer Bead Cleaning Technology

The new innovation from Xerox, named as a top invention by TIME magazine, winner of ‘Best Technological Breakthrough’ in the Climate Week Awards 2011; listed in World Wildlife Fund’s survey of global ‘Green Game Changers’; and awarded two Rush light 2013, is based on the hydrophilic properties of polymer beads. It delivers a trio of benefits: better cleaning, lower cost, and a green solution. A hydrophilic molecule or portion of a molecule is one that is typically charge-polarized and capable of hydrogen bonding, enabling it to dissolve more readily in water. By combining the beads’ molecular structure with a proprietary detergent solution, dirt from soiled items is attracted to and absorbed by the beads, producing cleaner laundry. These reusable beads have a lifespan of hundreds of washes before being collected and recycled.

We have a big but simple idea: to convert the traditional world of aqueous washing to Xeros bead cleaning. Our superior cleaning method delivers a whole variety of benefits to people, businesses and the environment.

– Bill Westwater, CEO, Xeros

How does it work?

The Xeros technology was developed by Professor Stephen Burkinshaw from the University of Leeds, who discovered that certain types of polymer beads could be used for cleaning. The researchers actually were trying to solve the opposite problem – helping dyes stay colorfast in textiles longer – when they figured out it could work in reverse for removing stains. Xeros has patented this technology and is the only company today to deliver this type of laundry system.

The Xeros cleaning system looks similar to a typical washing machine, with the exception of a wet sump pump that is used to store the beads. During the wash cycle, the beads are released into the drum where they displace water and help remove stains from soiled sheets, towels and other fabrics. The dirt released by the soiled items is captured and stored by the beads. The beads are then removed from the laundry once the cleaning is complete. As a bonus, users do not have to separate most colours, as the beads absorb stray dyes. Plus the machines’ gentler cleaning action and lower temperatures mean clothes and linens stay new for longer. The beads’ resilience means they can be used for hundreds of washes without losing their effectiveness. When they have reached the end of their useful life as cleaners, they can be recycled into items such as car dashboards.

Hotels are just starting to adopt polymer bead cleaning technology for their commercial laundry in western countries. This is part of a wider trend where hotels are increasingly adopting green practices to conserve resources and reduce their costs.

Besides the cost benefits, there are less-tangible benefits such as increased customer loyalty, and boosting brand reputation by “going green.”

Courtesy: Xeros Hospitality Industry

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