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Working towards Sustainability

Sustainability has a long-term impact on our environment and the generations to come. As stakeholders of the laundry industry, it falls upon the industry players and service providers to take responsibility to give time to nature to recreate itself by limiting the use of natural resources. In a high level panel discussion during LaundrexNet knowledge sharing session held in January 2016, eminent speakers discussed sustainability in laundry. Excerpts:

The Panel Members: Uwe Stahl, Managing Director-Stahl, Germany; Timothy R. Nymberg, Vice President-APAC; Vijay Rodda, Laundry Consultant and Sumeet Verma, Managing Director-Buzil Rossari Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai.

Sustainability in general, depends on two factors – cost and its impact on the society and stakeholders. Cost has various aspects, including primary expenses such as chemicals, water, energy, fuel, salary and machinery. It also involves secondary expenses which include telephone, computer, paper work, packaging and logistics. While, these are some of the expenses that can be moderated and if done so, without compromising on the quality, sustainability increases. Both factors must commensurate with each other for a sustainable business model in any field.

There are five main stakeholders for any industry, including laundry customer or guest, shareholder, staff, supply chain and the society. Society, specifically is affected by a range of factors like pollution (land, air, water and noise) besides usage of resources whether renewable or non-renewable. These factors could lead to problems for any business.

Role of machinery

Speaking of expenses incurred in procuring machines, Uwe Stahl opines that “procurement is one-time investment and it is the operational cost that affects sustainability in terms of water usage, servicing, compatibility of different kind of clothes and chemicals, damage to laundry, energy consumption and emerging pollutants impacting health of the workers.”

In fact, the more one invests in the set-up, the more it adds to sustainability. Efficient use of resources, improves the quality of life. “It is not about a chemical or equipment, it is all about balancing the laundry operations. Adequate dosing and dispensing coupled with uninterrupted operations, minimum rewashing and a balance of the chemistry involved play a significant role in sustainability,” adds Timothy.

Explaining sustainability in terms of laundry, Sumeet Verma says, “Sustainability is all about using the resources — water, chemical and energy — efficiently to save the environment. I use an analogy for laundry that machine is the body, dispensing is the art and chemical is the blood. We should have benchmarks defined for each and every procedure and equipment involved. If all these benchmarks are within parameters, the cost will automatically come down. Water quality, mechanical action, chemical dilution, time and temperature are the five operational parameters and are the key to achieve sustainability goals for any small or large laundry establishment.”

From ecological perspective, Sumeet prefers liquid based chemicals over powders, as they all have phosphate base that tend to pollute the environment. “So when we speak about sustainability, it is not just the cost but the entire ecosystem that needs to be considered. Powders also take time to dissolve in water unlike liquids. Efficient dosing programme can also help in sustainability.”

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