Doing more: how can your washroom save the planet?

Doing more: how can your washroom save the planet?

By Brett Fleming-Jones, Group Head of Marketing at washroom services provider phs Group
What do you expect from your washroom? Perhaps it’s just the fundamentals; basic facilities and cleanliness. But isn’t it time we started expecting more from our washrooms? With increasing onus on CSR, organisations are looking for new ways to be innovative in a bid to boost their environmental objectives, improve employee wellbeing and simultaneously deliver cost savings.
The opportunity is prime for washrooms to contribute to these important goals – and those who are ignoring it are certainly missing a trick.

Washroom trick 1: Conserving water

The average employee uses 50 litres of water every day within the workplace; 90% of this is within the washroom. It’s estimated there are over 200 million daily hand washes within businesses. This equates to a phenomenal amount of water use. And while it seems like there is an unlimited supply, only 0.5% of fresh water on earth is fit for consumption. With growing population rates, it makes sense to conserve this precious resource.
The good news is that water-saving measures are quick and simple to implement. Firstly, start monitoring your usage so you can understand how much you’re using – and then see how much you’re saving. Sparking behaviour change in staff on why they should conserve water, and how, is key. Start an awareness initiative supported by in-house training, workshops and communication including posters within your washrooms. Once you’ve reached a set target for water reduction, you can even use some of the cost savings as a reward which acts as a strong incentive. Finally, there are several tools and products that deliver savings immediately from devices which fit on to your taps to reduce flow, urinal water management systems and flush controls.
At phs, our patented FLOWSAVER TAP saves 70% of water, reducing tap flow from an average of six to 10 litres per minute to just 1.7 litres. Meanwhile, our FLOWSAVER URINAL has an intelligent flush control system to prevent unnecessary flushing, saving 80% of water usage. And the phs FLUSHWISER WC flush control saves three litres of water per flush. If an average employee uses the toilet three times a day, that equates to a saving of 2,160 litres per person each year. The results speak for themselves; in a trial with a pub chain, these devices saved the business 80% of its water consumption and over £600 per washroom each year. And on top of this, every cubic metre of water saved will reduce your carbon footprint by around one kilogramme.

Washroom trick 2: Stopping blockages and protecting our coasts

Half of UK women are believed to flush sanitary products down the toilet – despite the fact they should not be flushed. It’s estimated that up to two billion sanitary items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year. This contributes to blockages which can be messy, unhygienic and expensive to fix; nationally, it costs £88m a year to unblock sewers. And these flushed products can also end up strewn across beaches and in the sea.
With every one of us contributing to the generation of waste, we believe that it’s the responsibility for this waste lies with everyone. Therefore, helping to educate people about the correct disposal of sanitary products becomes intuitive. In addition to providing sanitary bins in every cubicle, we can also encourage ‘flushers’ to become ‘binners’ in the provision of sanitary disposal bags. In a new partnership, phs is the UK’s sole distributor of FabLittleBag to businesses. Research conducted with parenting website Mumsnet found that 97% of flushers converted to binning sanitary products after just one month’s use. And when we talk about this message to businesses across the country, they are inspired to get on board.

Washroom trick 3: Cleaning up the ocean from plastic

Awareness about plastic pollution is growing quickly with high profile campaigns to eradicate single-use plastic. However, a shocking 46% of plastic pollution in the ocean is made up of discarded fishing gear. Known as ‘ghost nets’, they ensnare marine animals such as turtles, dolphins, fish and whales and even result in their death. 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear makes its way into the ocean each year and takes up to 600 years to degrade. So what can your washroom do about it? Start with examining your supply chain to find out how the products and services you buy are making a difference to the planet. For instance, phs floor mats are made from fishing nets which are pulled out of the ocean and recycled into a strong nylon yarn called ECONYL. This means that a simple floor mat preventing slips and trips in your washroom is helping to clean the ocean from plastic waste, making a real difference to the planet.

Washroom trick 4: Saving trees

When it comes to hand drying, a business has a choice between paper towels and hand dryers. On the face of it, towels seem like the cheaper option. However, our research shows that switching to hand dryers can save £1,000 a year per washroom. Based on 150 dries a day, the cost of paper towels supply will be around £4.50. In comparison, drying the same number of hands will cost just 8p a day. The switch has also helped save one of our large corporate customers 175 black bin bags of paper towel waste a day.

Washroom trick 5: Improving air quality

By their very nature, washrooms can be a place for bacteria to harbour. You wouldn’t think about not cleaning them but what about the air which not only carries odours but bacteria too? Fragrance is one option – as long as your product also neutralises odours so bad smells are destroyed and not just masked. However, you can also consider an air purifier which removes 99.9% of harmful germs, allergens and particulates; including contaminants, harsh odours, airborne flu and norovirus. These can be a game changer; phs trials found that installing the AERAMAX air purifier within a restaurant washroom allowed them to seat diners at tables close by – ones which they previously couldn’t use due to complaints of odours emanating from the toilets. Not only did the air purifier make their washroom a better place, it had an impact on the restaurant itself – and its ability to serve more people.
In a culture where there always seems to be a desire for more, it’s obvious that you should expect every part of your workplace to deliver more. Your washrooms should not only be a place which is pleasant to use, they should be able to work with you; helping your business to do the right thing.
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Doing more: how can your washroom save the planet?