The Tamil Nadu Industrial Laundry and Dry Cleaners’ Association (TNILDA) is only in its second year of existence, but has already become a forum for stakeholders from the state to exchange views about the current scenario and suggest ways to make one another’s businesses viable and sustainable. In a free-wheeling group conversation, members of its executive committee voiced their thoughts about the challenges they face, how they are overcoming them and how much more needs to be done
Venkat Raj, Head of Continuous Services (Asia), Lindstrom, Chennai explains that energy bills constitute a major part of a laundry’s operating costs. The rising power tariffs for commercial entities add to the heavy expenditure incurred by laundry owners.
The laundries of Washdoor Solutions are entirely electrically operated and the machines have in-built water heaters. Its Director Jeeva Gunasekaran says that washing, drying and steam-ironing one kilo consumes 1.4 units, an acceptable figure for such a laundry.
Some laundry owners rely on other sources of energy. Managing Director of Thee Washers Ramkumar informs us that his company has started using wood boilers, which are more cost effective than electricity or diesel. Venkat suggests introducing gasoperated dryers, which he claims will reduce costs by 40% at the very least, if tumble drying is being used.
He adds: “There are more ‘green’ wash programmes available, however, they need to be validated for their efficacy, in terms of hygiene and cleanliness. For instance, if a steam dryer is being used, then the steam traps need to be maintained in good condition, and they should have a design to recover the maximum possible condensate for reuse in the process.” Not collecting and reusing condensate is one of the biggest lost arenas of cost-cutting in the laundry industry.
As India becomes increasingly environment-conscious, it is passing laws which mandate reductions in the green footprint of business. Effluents from laundries are potentially toxic and can leave a lasting impact on groundwater, among other effects. Laws that forbid these effluents from being discharged without treatment are not yet strongly enforced, which is why laundries are enjoying a golden period of not having to invest in waste-water treatment. However, the day is not far when everyone will have to toe the line.
Venkat says, “As per the Central Pollution Control Board, mechanised laundries come under the ‘orange’ category, and many industrial areas come under the Zero Discharge zone. Some states provide Central Effluent Treatment Plants and accept waste-water after some treatment. But these activities come at a high cost. However, sustainable businesses have to comply with the land of law, so this growing need to invest in treatment plants is a potential threat to the future of the laundry industry.”
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Energy bills constitute a major part of a laundry’s operating costs. The rising power tariffs for commercial entities add to the heavy expenditure incurred by laundry owners.