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The rising popularity of hand-dryer use in UAE facilities

A large aspect of Dubai’s sustainability goals is to generate less waste in the first place, and reducing our dependance on paper towels will go a long way

COMMENT, Facilities Management, FM, Hand-dryer, Tissues, Uae, Washrooms

For the longest time I have been an advocator of reducing our tissue and paper towel usage. And it’s heartening to see more hand dryers being installed in public washrooms across the UAE.

But I’d like to know with a quick show of hands the last time you were standing in front of a high-capacity hand dryer, waiting patiently for your hands to dry, when a washroom attendant handed you a bunch of paper towels from the dispenser, coupled with a wide ol’ smile.

Sure, the attendant means no harm, and he/she is following protocol in the effort to ensure they meet their client’s promise of ‘good facilities’.

In fact they are doing a good deed, and I don’t want to take that away from them by any stretch.

That’s when I realised the buck needs to stop somewhere — every employee from the highest to the lowest rank needs to have the brand’s sustainability agenda drilled into them.

If a guest is wilfully using a hand dryer, then they should be encouraged to do so.

In fact I’d go a step ahead and challenge developers and asset managers to do away with the paper towel dispenser. If not altogether, at least reduce their frequency while adding more hand dryers in public washrooms.

On a recent trip to South Africa, I was amazed to see a proportion of washrooms in Johannesburg’s malls and airports devoid of any form of paper towels. Instead, the washrooms had four high-power hand dryers that ensured the turnaround of users was smooth.

If that’s a bit much, we can surely start by taking baby steps.

FM operators often tell me: “To use a large amount of paper towels is a cultural thing, it can’t be changed unfortunately.

But do we really need our arm wrapped in layers of kitchen towels to wipe excess water from the sink?

Let’s think of our own usage first before we decided to make policy changes in our company.

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Construction Week - Issue 741
May 11, 2019