Here’s the Real Facts on Paper Hand Towels

Here are seven facts you should keep in mind when deciding whether to keep paper hand dispensers, or switch to hand dryers:

Scandic Bathroom

1. Paper Towels cannot be recycled

Paper towels are classified as contaminated waste and end up in landfill. Every time.

Although paper towels can be made from recycled paper, they are usually the last paper product to be made in the chain.  This means the paper they are made from has been recycled up to seven times before, so the fibres are too short in paper towels to be used again.

 Disposal Dump Garbage

2. Decomposing paper hand towels contribute to global warming

In the USA alone, 6,500,000 tons of paper towels are sent to landfills each year. The decay of paper products produce methane gas which is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This is creating a significant threat to global warming.

Worse still, paper towels are often put in plastic bags, creating further problems in landfills.


3. The average paper towel generates 7.5gms/CO2 or 22.5 gms/CO2 per dry.

Life Cycle analysis shows that the effects of felling raw materials, transportation, manufacturing, packaging and storage, produces a significant amount of CO2.

To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 75,700 litres of water are consumed and polluted.


 4. Paper Towels are one of the biggest causes of blocked drains

Facilities managers constantly tell us that the reason they switch to hand dryers is because they are fed up with paper towels blocking the toilets.

People like to use them as a toilet seat cover for better protection than the thin toilet tissue.

Unfortunately, the fibres don't break down like tissue and blockages are always occur.


5. An empty paper towel dispenser is the biggest risk to hygiene

It is widely accepted that wet hands are the biggest hygiene risk. Unfortunately, hand towels are often missing as large handfuls come out at once or no one notices in time to refill the dispenser.

The paper towel industry knows this is a problem and has tried to design products to reduce this from happening, but the majority of current systems are inadequate.


6. Paper towels cost on average 95% more than hand dryers

When comparing energy efficient hand dryers with paper towel costs, the savings can be huge.

Here’s a quick example:

Energy efficient hand dryerTurboforce Junior PLUS

  • Rated power: 500 W (intelligent heating system)
  • Dry time: 18 seconds
  • Cost per 1000 dries: $0.75 (based on 30 cents per kW/h)
  • Carbon production: 1.35 kg/CO2

Paper towels

Paper towels: on average, 3 taken per dry

  • Cost per paper towel: average 0.2 cent each
  • Cost per 1000 dries: $6.00
  • Carbon production: 22.5 kg/CO2

Savings of $5.25 per 1000 dries. A 86% saving!

To put this into context:

If you have an office of 20 people

The number of toilet visits a year: 23,400 (each person using the bathroom 4.5 times a day 260 days a year)


Annual cost

Annual carbon production

Paper Towels


527 kg/CO2

Turboforce Junior PLUS


41 kg/CO2


7. There are hygiene concerns over paper towels

The paper towel industry has moved away from talking about the critical issue of hand hygiene as they know hygiene is related to how thoroughly you wash and dry your hands, not which method you use.

The paper towel industry also knows that many of its own dispensing systems are inadequate and cause contamination points. Wet hands reaching into dispensers to unblock them leaves a wet, damp environment for the next user.  An environment ideal for bacteria to grow in.

It has been shown that bacteria can be transferred from hands to paper towel dispensers and then back from the dispenser to hands, if either one is contaminated. This occurs when people have trouble taking paper towels from the dispenser and touch the unit itself.

It's been found that more bacteria grew on paper-towel dispenser push-and-crank handles than on the Airblades. That’s why manufacturers are constantly bringing out touchless systems.

A recent study showed that bacteria actually lives in paper towels, not just gets transferred from dispenser to paper towels.

Again, this shows that paper towels are not as sanitary as initially believed.



For more information or for help in finding your ideal hand dryer, please call us on 1300 HANDRY or (+61) 1300 426 379, use our contact us page or email us at

You can also use our Intelligent Search Tool that helps you identify the perfect dryer for your location by clicking here.

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