Guest Column - February 2009
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Locker Rooms & Restrooms

Being Green, Seeing Green

By Alan Gettleman and David Leigh

Mythology: It costs more to be a responsible corporate "citizen" by purchasing products crafted from sustainable and recycled materials.

Truth: When you're friendly to the environment, you're also friendly to your bottom line. You gain the public relations value, especially important in the "family-friendly" recreation industry, while at the same time reducing your operating costs.


o prove the point, we'll provide some discussion about restroom accessories, toilet partitions and urinal screens, and dressing compartments. You'll see the savings from several perspectives (including lifecycle durability) that reduce repair and replacement, maintenance cost containment, and the use of universal consumables such as soap. And, in some cases, these contribute to LEED certification.

Recycled Stainless Steel

Restroom accessories, such as towel dispensers, waste receptacles, soap dispensers, sanitary vendors and receptacles, mirror frames, toilet tissue and seat cover dispensers, are primarily crafted of stainless steel.

Recycled stainless steel is procured from around the world, and it is not uncommon for these restroom accessories to be 50 percent to 70 percent post-industrial recycled stainless steel.

Universal vs. Proprietary Consumables (e.g., Soap)

Basically, there are two choices in this category:

  • Universal, bulk-packaged, non-proprietary liquid and lotion soaps are available at a variety of price points shipped in 1-gallon jugs and dispensed from bulk soap dispensers. Dispenser models include lavatory-mounted and wall or mirror mounted, available in durable, recycled stainless steel and high-impact polyethylene.
  • Alternatively, proprietary soap dispensers are available in plastic cartridges that can only be used in the soap company's dispensers. These cartridges are non-biodegradable, require landfill disposal, and lock the operator into long-term purchasing agreements. Another waste factor is the amount of residual soap remaining in the cartridges during change-out replacement cycles.

And, yes, bulk soap costs less than proprietary products.