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Touch-free or "hands-free" paper towel dispensers are a great idea. In fact, an increasing number of commercial, private and public buildings are installing automatic faucets, flushers, soap and a paper towel dispenser, cleaning systems, and other touch-free devices in their restrooms.
That is because of the concern over germs on restroom surfaces. In addition to sanitation issues, other factors are contributing to this trend. Evidence exits that touch-free faucets and flushers can effectively reduce possible cross-contamination. They also save water. There was once a concern that touch-free technology was not reliable. However, newer products on the market are proving to be dependable and durable. Newer products are smaller, use fewer parts, are easier to install, and are more aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, restaurant owners are realizing that touch-free technology is actually cheaper to operate and requires less maintenance.
Keeping public restrooms clean means paying attention to what's known in the cleaning industry as the "Top Five." These are the five most typical restroom complaints and the most common cleaning challenges. They are:
1) Cross-contamination hazards
2) Soap and towel dispensers that don't work
3) Unsightly garbage
4) Soiled or stained surfaces
5) Persistent odors
The International Sanitary Supply Association's (ISSA) Web site offers a 12-step set of general guidelines entitled "How to Properly Clean a Restroom." It will give guidelines for solutions to the "Top Five" that include cleaning countertops by starting at the backsplash and working toward the drain and ensuring paper towels are always restocked.
Research has found that restaurant patrons prefer cloth over paper napkins.
According to studies done by the National Restaurant Association and market research reports, the average restaurant customer uses 2.5 paper napkins per meal at an average of 2¢ per napkin. Per year, 461,600 tons of paper napkins are disposed. That's 2.6 million cubic yards or 50 football fields 30 feet deep. If cloth replaced paper, landfill consumption would be reduced by 2.5 million cubic yards.
Tissue paper is used in sanitary products, such as toilet and facial tissue, paper towels and napkins, and is sold to consumer (retail) and commercial (away-from-home or AfH) customers. According to Pulp & Paper, a trade publication covering the latest business developments, operations techniques and technical innovations in the pulp, paper and paperboard industry, consumer tissue accounts for 65 percent of the entire tissue market. The AfH market represents most of the remaining shipments and is sold to janitorial supply companies, hotels, offices, restaurants, schools, and government.
About 60 percent of U.S. tissue is produced from wastepaper fiber. And of the 40 percent virgin pulp used in the furnish, about half is purchased on the market. The rest is made onsite at integrated facilities.
Examples of different types of tissue papers include sanitary grades such as toilet, facial tissue, napkin, towels, wipes, and special sanitary papers. Desirable characteristics in these types of tissue papers are softness, strength, and freedom from lint.
Managers may wish to consider offering patrons both hand towel machines and air dryers so that there will always be an alternative if one or the other can't be used. Conscientious service, repair, and replacement of machines also helps eliminate this common complaint.
Become a "green" restaurant by being environmentally conscious. Help the environment by purchasing products with recycled/reused contents. These products include, but are not limited to, paper table covers, placemats and napkins, menus, guest checks, office paper, business cards, take-out containers, trash bags, toilet seat covers and paper towels in restrooms.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|