NEW ORLEANS — There’s a cost to “greening” your laundry operation, but there are ways you can protect the environment without breaking the bank, Ed Kwasnick, president of Turn-Key Industrial Engineering Services, suggested during an early-morning educational session today at Clean ’09.
In Green Conspiracy: Saving the Environment and the Bottom Line, Kwasnick led attendees through a series of strategies they could use to save natural gas, water, electricity and washroom chemicals in their operations.
Resource conservation is at the heart of laundry service and truly nothing new, Kwasnick said. “We were green before green was cool,” he quipped.
He described natural-gas-saving systems including a wastewater heat reclaimer (uses outgoing hot wastewater to heat incoming cold fresh water), stack economizer (uses boiler flue gases to heat process water), flash steam recovery system (uses flash steam from the boiler makeup tank to heat process water) and a high-efficiency modular boiler that produces full steam in 5-10 minutes and shuts down when not needed.
Each requires a sizable one-time investment, ranging from $20,000 to $140,000, but can save a lot of money in the long term, Kwasnick says. The heat reclaimer, for example, stands to save an operator $60,000 to $80,000 a year, and such a system could be operated for 20 to 30 years if properly maintained.
Water reuse (collecting final rinse water and using it for initial break) and water recycling (filtering wastewater through a membrane to remove contaminants) are also popular conservation strategies.
But there are cheaper, simpler ways to save. Generally, Kwasnick advises, keep your equipment systems clean and maintained, operate them properly, and coordinate their operation so they’re most efficient.
One easy, inexpensive way to conserve energy is to fix steam leaks. A leak that is one-eighth inch in diameter can cost up to $8,000 a year. By insulating all steam lines, operators can see a return on their investment in as little as three months.
“If you learn nothing else from this presentation, go back to your facility and wrap all your steam lines,” he said.
The Association for Linen Management (ALM) sponsored the session.