Hotel Linens

Fiber is Just a Part of Linens’ Evolving Sustainability Story - By Glenn Hasek

Getting guests to forego linen laundering is one way to reduce linen-related costs and their associated environmental footprint. Another way is to choose linen that is inherently environmentally advantageous - in other words, its reduced footprint is built into its very fibers.

Green Lodging News Still another way is to choose a supplier that not only is concerned about the product itself but also the supply chain behind it, how it is made, and what happens to it at the end of its life.

When considering environmental impact, there is no perfect sheet or pillow case. Cotton, unless it is certified organic, requires a significant amount of herbicides and pesticides to grow and maintain. As versatile as polyester is, it is petroleum-derived. Fortunately, through research and testing, suppliers have figured out ways to at least reduce the environmental impact of their products and, in some cases, even introduce new fiber types into their textile blends—those made from eucalyptus or beech trees, for example.

Through the unique way it blends cotton and polyester fibers, Standard Textile has developed linen that it says lasts longer than other types on the market—longevity being an environmental asset because less product ultimately needs to be made or purchased.

“By combining fibers the way we do, our linens are demonstrably stronger than 100 percent cotton or other blended product,” says Richard Stewart, Corporate Vice President Product Development & Sustainability, Standard Textile.

Standard Textile, according to its website, embeds sustainability principles in its supply chain programs, product development, new technologies and innovation. Its goal is to help customers reduce their energy, chemical and water consumption.

Plant Powered by Hydroelectric Power

Standard Textile’s plant in Augusta, Ga. is powered entirely by hydroelectric power. Generators produce 13.5 million kilowatt-hours of clean electric power annually. At the company’s plant in Union, S.C., more than 14 million gallons of water are recycled/reused annually. More than 40 percent of the company’s shipping corrugate is comprised of recycled fiber. Yarn cones are returned and reused by spinning operations and pallets used for shipment of yarn cones are returned and reused for subsequent shipments.

One of the most significant ways Standard Textile helps its customers reduce the environmental impact of its laundry operations immediately is through its Room Ready for You program. Linens are delivered to a hotel pre-laundered and ready to use. Because of a patented system in its linen manufacturing operations, Standard Textile is able to launder and dry product with 58 percent less energy consumption than a typical laundry serving a hospitality property.

Real Green is the brand name for Standard Textile’s sustainability efforts. Sustainability, says Stewart, is something “we talk about endlessly.” “It is increasingly more important to our customers,” he says. “We have been doing this for years. For some customers it is exceptionally important.”

While Standard Textile does take samples back for donation to charities, it does not yet take back other product for recycling. Because of transportation costs, the economics of such a program does not currently make sense.

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FRESH Linens Can be Sent Back for Recycling

One company that does currently take product back for recycling is Valley Forge Fabrics. The company’s FRESH line of linens, made from 100 percent pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled polyester, are accepted back and ultimately recycled into blankets, pillow inserts, plastics for automotive interiors and various other plastics. Valley Forge will organize specific plans individual to each property in order to minimize freight cost and carbon emissions per shipment. FRESH bedding products may contribute to LEED points.

In addition to FRESH, Valley Forge Fabrics offers LIVING FRESH with Tencel+Plus. Linens in this line are made from Tencel+Plus Eucalyptus fibers and cotton fibers. The combination of Tencel+Plus Eucalyptus and cotton requires less pressing during maintenance than the more traditional natural fibers such as 100 percent cotton or any combinations of hemp and bamboo. Also, Eucalyptus trees are rapidly renewable resources known for their quick growth; properly trained foresters cut Eucalyptus trees above the root bulb and see their trees grow back to size within just five to eight years. More importantly, once a tree has been initially harvested, new trees regenerate and up to 15 generations of new growth can be cultivated.

All Eucalyptus fiber for LIVING FRESH with Tencel+Plus products is harvested from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and/or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) managed forests. The ability to produce Eucalyptus fiber while having almost complete recovery of the solvent is a key part of its sustainability story. Another important environmental aspect is the use of water when comparing Tencel+Plus Eucalyptus to other natural fibers. Tencel+Plus Eucalyptus fiber requires 100 times less water than traditional cotton manufacturing.

Sheets made from LIVING FRESH with Tencel+Plus dry up to 29 percent faster than traditional cotton, which provides significant energy savings. According to Valley Forge Fabrics, the biodegradable sheets stay softer, longer, without the additional use of softeners. This reduces the introduction of additional chemicals into the waste stream and saves water by eliminating an additional rinse cycle.

Naked Collection Coming to IHMRS

Within 1888 Mills’ Green Threads bedding collection is 100 percent organic cotton sheets and pillow cases—all OEKO-TEX certified. The company will introduce its Naked collection made with Modal fibers from beech trees at November’s International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (November 9 to 12, Javits Center, New York City). The Modal Body line will include linens made from 60 percent Modal fibers and 40 percent cotton fibers.

According to its website, 1888 Mills takes a triple bottom line approach to its business: people, planet, prosperity. “We continually strive for improvements in our processes through Lean Six Sigma, waste management and an Environmental Management Policy,” the website says. “Recognizing that sustainability is multi-faceted, our product lines promote energy savings, as well as environmental and social responsibility. Our packaging concepts continually push the envelope and have resulted in a 50 percent reduction of PVC, polyethylene and other harmful chemicals.”

Monarch Cypress’ microfiber EcoLuxe linens line is made of 100 percent polyester. According to Karen Faul, president of Monarch Cypress Hotel Division, sheets weigh one-third less than 100 percent cotton sheets. “You can launder more linen at one time and save on manpower,” Faul says. The linens are recyclable and at the end of their life can be cut into squares to use for cleaning. Taken immediately out of the dryer after drying, no pressing is required.

Comphy Co. poly-microfiber linens that are 100 percent recyclable, fast drying and require no ironing.

Cuddledown Marketing offers cotton linens certified by GOTS to be organic and Oeko-Tex certified to be free of all harmful chemicals.

Many Fiber Options in Koni Hospitality’s Eco Line

Koni Hospitality’s Eco product line incorporates eco-friendly fibers (Lyocell, Modal, organic cotton, bamboo, recycled and recyclable polyester) and each fiber offers unique benefits and attributes.

Luxurious Organics specializes in organic bamboo linens. According to Patricia Duke, owner of the company, the linens require in-house laundering with eco-friendly or mild detergent. “They last three times longer than cotton sheets,” she says, adding that the linens are also hypoallergenic and antibacterial.

GFI Inc. includes Modal, a fiber made from beech trees, in its sheets.

Midori Styles sells different sheet styles made from bamboo fibers.

Coyuchi offers GOTS certified organic cotton sheets.

This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to www.greenlodgingnews.com. Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com



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