Brussels, May 2014 - Washing workwear at home has a heavier impact on the environment than industrial laundering. Although home washing equipment has become more energy efficient in recent years the positive environmental impact of new appliances is often being undone by consumers' washing habits. This is one of the key findings of the GfK survey into consumers' behaviour when washing workwear at home, commissioned by the European Textile Services Association (ETSA). Whereas the textile services industry uses highly controlled processes to ensure all parameters of the laundering cycle are optimized every time, consumers lack the necessary technical background to estimate or control the environmental impact of their home washing activities.
Just like industrial laundering equipment, domestic washing and drying appliances nowadays have to meet several eco-friendly standards regarding energy or water consumption. If all the laundering parameters, such as load size, temperature, detergent dosage, etc., are respected, these appliances have a less negative impact on the environment. "Unfortunately, due to consumers' home washing habits, very often these ideal parameters are not optimized and the desired positive environmental effect is therefore lost", says Matthias Zoch, Head of Environment and Process Development, MEWA.
The survey shows that 30 to 40% of consumers are unaware of the energy class and consumption of their washing machine, while 60 to 70% of consumers do not know the energy class or consumption level of their dryer - 90% of consumers have no idea about the water consumption level of their household equipment. Another 6 out of 10 consumers put on their washing machine even if it is not completely full, regardless of the related high energy use. More than half of the consumers do not follow the detergent dosing instructions of the machine manufacturers (51), while 35% do not even measure the amount of powder or liquid they put in their washing machine.
While washing at home seems to be at the expense of environmental protection, industrial laundering actively reduces its burden on the environment. Through the use of new and improved technology, the industrial laundering industry continues to optimize its resource and energy consumption and reduces its CO2 emissions. Furthermore it has developed and keeps improving the technology for wastewater treatment, recycling and neutralization.
Matthias Zoch, Head of Environment and Process Development, MEWA: "Textile services firms are committed to a business model which exercises the greatest possible concern for the environment. By its very nature, the textile services industry provides a more sustainable alternative to disposables, washing at home and ownership of textiles. Recycling is an integrated aspect in every step of the service provided by textile service firms. Damaged garments, for example, are repaired whereas, according to the GFK 2012 survey, 51% of consumers replace their workwear when damaged. Furthermore, all industrial packaging is recycled or re-used, which is not yet the case in the majority of households."
Read the full results of the GfK survey on 'Consumer behaviour while washing workwear at home - GfK study results'.
Read the ETSA press release:
Read the ETSA client communication:
Read more about workwear and protective clothing in the ETSA workwear library.
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To find out more about our members including textile rental companies and suppliers, click here.