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Cleaning Green

Aligning with customers’ values is not only great for businesses, it’s great for the environment. That’s why from McDonalds and Google on down to many mid-size and small operations, businesses are getting with the green initiative and changing the way they operate. Richmond’s HandCraft Services is no exception. An institution in the local market – in business since 1970 as HandCraft Cleaners, branching out with HandCraft Linen Services in 1984 – they currently launder 80 million pounds of health care industry linens a year.

Being an eco-friendly business involves more than just recycling and keeping carbon emissions in check, though that’s a large part of it. It’s a new way of thinking about everything you do and how you do it. Most importantly for HandCraft, is the way they clean. “We reuse all our hot water to reheat our incoming cool water,” says Keith Nichols, President. “We get 50 plus degrees of free heat from our water. We use our clean rinse water for other processes in the washing cycle.”

Many companies like HandCraft (who happen to be a client of Atlantic Union Bank) are embracing their greenness and shining a light on their day-to-day, from how much energy they use to how many trees adorn their place of operation’s parking lot. “We do anything we can,” Keith continues. “We recycle everything: cardboard, plastics, linens. We also monitor our fleet of trucks and their routes to maximize fuel usage. We only use LED lighting in the plant. It’s more energy efficient.”

The laundry and linen world wasn’t exactly the first in line to adopt the new way of thinking. “This industry lagged behind for years as far as taking advantage of some of the newer technologies,” says Jay Nichols, Vice President. “In the past 15 years, we’ve made a lot of strides. We’re catching up to some of the other industries that are already utilizing better practices.”

At a time when many recent consumer studies have shown overwhelmingly that customers would choose goods and services from companies that are eco-friendly than from companies that are not, companies are being recognized for their efforts. “One thing we bring to table is that we are clean green certified by the TRSA,” adds Keith.  “It’s an award that is very hard to get in our industry. Only a select few receive it.” (The TRSA is an advocacy group that represents the linen, uniform and facility services industry and sets the standard for best business practices).

With the green operational philosophy, comes another perk for HandCraft: customer savings. “We’ve greatly reduced our need for energy and water consumption. Says Jay: “In the end, we can pass those savings onto our customers. Being green allows us to be the lowest cost provider in our market.”

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