Hand drying with the environment in mind

Study confirms: Textiles are more sustainable than paper

, 23/11/2016

Everyone can help protect the environment, everywhere – even in washrooms. The use of a cotton hand towels instead of paper towels produces 95% less waste, results in 48% less energy consumption and reduces the global warming potential by 29%, as was recently confirmed by a scientific study commissioned by the Textile Service Trade Association (WIRTEX) and the European Textile Service Association (ETSA).

The environmental study published in November 2016 investigated the environmental balance of cotton hand towels, virgin paper and recycled paper. The results revealed the cotton towel system to be the outright winner. It achieved better environmental values than recycled paper in seven out of eight categories and better values than virgin paper in six out of eight categories.

The most important results

Cotton towel rolls generate up to 95% less waste, require up to 48% less energy consumption and have a global warming potential of up to 29% lower than that of virgin paper. Other factors also compared included air pollution, summer smog formation, water consumption and the acidification and overfertilisation of soils. The study covered the entire service lives of the three hand drying materials from the production of resources to the production of the finished items, their use and reuse as well as eventual recycling. Another study published by the German Institute for Applied Ecology in 2006 also reported similar results.

Reusable products help avoid waste

Reuse is a central concept in the business model on which CWS-boco’s rental service is established. The business’ core product is the CWS cotton towel roll, which is collected, reprocessed and delivered back to the customer. A single roll can be used to dry up to 30,000 hands in the course of its useful service life. It is washed around 100 times and is a substitute for approximately 30,000 paper towels.[1] The cotton hand towel produces absolutely no waste during its years of faithful service, meaning the customer also incurs no disposal costs. Once it is no longer possible to use a roll, the textiles are recycled to produce cleaning cloths and mops. Paper towels used to dry hands end up in domestic waste, effectively ruling out their recycling.

Certified environmentally friendly washing

CWS-boco reprocesses around 28 million cotton towel rolls every year using environmentally friendly processes. The water used for washing is recycled and used a number of times, for example for precleaning dust control mats. CWS-boco has also had its strict demands for ultimate environmental compatibility verified by an independent body: Many high-tech CWS laundries have already been certified as per the DIN EN ISO 14001 standard. All cleaning is performed in accordance with the “Blue Angel” criteria without any washing additives affecting the waste water.


[1]  Based on approx. 100 wash cycles of a “CWS universal roll, wide”, which offers around 150 portions per clean roll, and assuming the use of 2 single-ply paper towels of average size and quality for drying hands once.



About CWS-boco

CWS-boco International GmbH is one of the leading international providers of professional textile services and washroom hygiene solutions. This includes the well-known CWS cotton towel, soap and fragrance dispensers and dust control mats, as well as industrially washable workwear and business wear, customer-specific corporate fashion collections, protective clothing from boco.

All services are offered in a flexible rental service. The CWS-boco Group achieved a turnover of €800 million in 2016. The company has 17 subsidiaries in Europe and employs around 7,500 employees around the globe. CWS-boco is wholly owned by Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH.


Press contact

Talar Arzuyan-Kadoglou
CWS-boco International GmbH
Dreieich Plaza 1B
D-63303 Dreieich
Fax: +49 6103 309-1729
Madeleine Pilpin
vibrio. Kommunikationsmanagement Dr. Kausch GmbH
Senior PR Consultant
Prannerstrasse 10
D-80333 Muenchen
Fax: +49 89 32151-77