One Little Change Saves Appalachian State 957,495 Feet of Paper Towels A Year

The brown rolls to the left and above were removed from dispensers before they were empty. (That's Jessica South modeling.)
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 1:36pm

Nothing's more frustrating than reaching for a paper towel and finding the dispenser empty.  That drippy, customer-frustration is what every custodian strives to prevent, so Appalachian State University's Environmental Services staff were changing paper towel rolls when they ran low, rather than risking "empties."

Custodial staff, who aren't in buildings 24/7,  were stocking up the paper towel dispensers so they wouldn't become empty in the hours between shifts when attendants weren't available.

"On average, we were probably loosing 20% of every roll of paper towels, because when the rolls got down that low we had to swap them for a new one," explained Keith Younce, Environmental Services Manager.  "We tried to reuse the left over rolls for cleaning windows or other small jobs, but many rolls were being thrown away with perfectly good paper towels still on them."

Paper towel dispenserAnd then Lawrence McGlamery (purchasing) and Keith Younce found this thing of beauty.  It's a dispenser designed to use 100% of the roll and then automatically replace the empty roll with a new roll.  No attendant needed.

Gentleman, our forests thank you.

The Physical Plant estimates that switching to this new dispenser will save 957,495 feet of paper towels each year.  The cost for swapping out dispensers?  "Zero!" said Keith Younce.  The manufacturer is removing and replacing the old dispensers with these new ones for free during summer break.

App State's paper towels are unbleached to reduce chlorine derrivatives from being introduced in the ecosystem, and they're made from 50% recycled material.  This yields two benefits:  1) material was diverted from a landfill to make these towels, so less waste; 2) only half of the amount of living trees were harvested to make these towels.

Feel Good about Recycled Paper Towels

They create 5x the number of jobs than "regular" paper towels

And yet:  they are cheaper than "regular" paper towels

Their production creates 74% less air polution

Their manufacture uses 35% less water

Being sustainable isn't just about reducing waste and protecting natural resources, it's also about being fiscally responsible.  Hats off to Lawrence McGamery and Keith Younce for saving Appalachian State University money and time--and reducing our waste as well.

Submit a Work Request

How may we help you?

I need..


Physical Plant
265 Dale Street
PO Box 32105
Boone, NC 28608-2105
Phone: 828.262.3190

Fax: 828.262.4017

QEP Global Learning