What’s in store for laundries and linen in 2022?

The laundry sector has been navigating truly unprecedented times for a variety of reasons with wide-ranging effects.

It hasn’t just been the pandemic and its associated effect on business, but ongoing turbulence in global supply markets, leading to huge rises to the price of linen, if indeed requirements can be met.

Now that the hospitality industry is recovering and work for laundries has picked up after disruptions, management are facing a staffing crisis which is pushing up wages at a time when the sector can least afford to pay people more.

The Textile Services Association documents these challenges in detail, reporting laundries’ labour costs as having risen 14.25% in 12 months alongside similarly steep increases in fuel, chemicals insurance which, combined, are threatening the very viability of some businesses.

Against this backdrop, the sector must work smarter than ever to be successful in 2022. Here’s Regenex’s three key predictions for priorities from January onwards.

We must all go greener

Putting sustainability top of the list might sound counter-intuitive at a time when some laundries are struggling to cover their operational basics.

But economists agree that taking zero carbon ambitions seriously, and making them a priority, is more important than anything else – including guarding against any future pandemics – in ensuring medium to long term survival.

In its Global Risks Report 2021, extreme weather, climate change action failure and human environmental damage were listed by the World Economic Forum as the biggest threats to organisations – more pressing than any disease-related concern.

The TSA has this week launched its Sustainability Pact focusing not just on Net Zero but water quality and waste reduction, further underlining the sector’s need to improve environmental standards.

Finance will be harder to come by

In relation to the above, demonstrating progress and good intentions regarding environmental policies will become increasingly important when it comes to borrowing money.

Increasingly, banks and investors do not want to support polluting companies and therefore finance will be harder to come by for companies who cannot easily show that they are doing their utmost to minimise their impact on the planet.

In the near future, whether a laundry can access essential funds may rely more heavily on being able to provide evidence of sustainability considerations. This will also be of huge importance for those seeking contract work with other, environmentally-minded players.

Thriftier habits will develop

According to recent figures from the TSA, based on survey responses from laundries all over the country, the cost of linen has risen by 50% and reliable supplies are harder to guarantee.

We predict that this situation coupled with the need to reduce textile waste will see laundries working harder to look after stock and negate the need to order replacement.

In the Hierarchy of Waste, reducing and re-using materials is rated more important than recycling unwanted items properly.

Whatever the commodity, it should ideally not be used in the first place – or less of it should be ordered. Moreover, the stock in question should be made to last as long as possible.

Linen is no exception. Simply trying to make sure that discarded items are recycled rather than sent to landfill is not enough.

The challenge is to extend the life cycle of every pillowcase, and every hand towel – and thankfully technology is now facilitating this, through Regenex’s clever stain removal processes.

In summary, the costs to both the environment and laundries’ bottom line will be the driving forces behind 2022’s priorities for the sector.

  • To talk to Regenex about loving linen longer, email paulhamilton@bulmerandlumb.com
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