Care for the planet

Caring for the planet means for us that we continuously keep in mind our environmental aspects and seek solutions for reducing their impacts. Whether we’re designing new workwear garments, creating new product categories, or selecting the best machinery for our laundries – sustainability plays a key role in everything we do. We provide textile services for customers, and this itself is a sustainable service model, as we rent textiles rather than sell them. We improve the sustainability of ourselves and our customers by developing innovative solutions and services.

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Environmental management and sustainable solutions of operations

We are following and compliant with ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management system. Based on the environmental management system, all our service centers have made their own environmental program and set their own targets besides textile waste for also water- energy- and detergent consumptions.

Caring for the planet means for us that we continuously keep in mind our environmental aspects and seek solutions for reducing their impacts. Lindström examines environmental aspects by group level but also separately in each service centre with a written document. The document is updated every second year at the minimum, or more often in case of remarkable changes in environmental effects.

Even though our aim is to reduce energy use and move toward renewable energy sources, this is not always so easy. Our oil usage increased in 2020 due to quality problems with the biogas supply at our Oulu laundry in Finland. As this situation is not acceptable, we are seeking better solutions. As a global principle, we encourage our facilities in every country to choose green, renewable electricity for their use in the future, to decrease CO2 emissions.

Energy usage and recovery 

Most of the energy consumed by laundries is used for heating the wash water and for drying and finishing textiles. Lower washing temperatures, shorter process times, and efficient energy use have improved energy-efficiency at laundries in past years. A process that consumes less water also uses less energy.

From wastewater, we utilize heat and use it for heating fresh water for the washing process. In some laundry’s dryers heat is also utilized.  Wastewater heat exchangers are added to all new laundries built and with enlargements projects or with machinery changes for old laundries.

The biggest waste types from our operations in addition to textiles are sand, sludge, and hazardous waste. Sand and sludge come from mat washing and wastewater treatment. Hazardous waste comes from industrial wiper washes and wastewater treatment facilities. The amount of hazardous waste has increased partly due to local requirements of sludge disposal.

In 2020 we launched our new textile waste hierarchy and further clarified our waste reporting. We have also improved our laundry environmental reporting system to be more visual and to better support the needs of our laundries and the whole group. We plan to continue this work of improving group reporting during 2021.

In 2020 we have bought 3 227 tons of new textiles. The amount has been decreased heavily, 34 % from the year 2019. Especially this is seen in our textile bought for hotel, restaurant, and washroom textiles but also for workwear’s. Supplying new workwear’s has decreased also due to our cross-ordering practice.  Within this method, in 2020 we have been able to utilize 230 000 pieces of workwear which means we have saved to supply the same amount of new workwear textiles.

Textiles washed in specialized laundries are transported by vehicles directly to customers or via distribution centres. Trunk and local delivery routes are continuously optimized. Transportation aims for full loads and the same vehicle is delivering clean textiles and picking up dirty ones. Optimally, the same vehicle delivers all required products at the same time. Lindström reports its outsourced delivery service mileage annually.

Average delivery kilometers increased during 2020 and is now 254 kilometers per textile kilogram. The increase from last year might have been caused partly due to better reporting of delivery kilometers, but also by the reduction in the number of textiles delivered due to the COVID-19 situation, as delivery vehicles were loaded with fewer textiles on average than in previous years. As our service centres outside Finland serve larger geographical areas, the relative share of delivery mileage per kilogram of transported textiles is higher than in Finland. The average delivery mileage of our subsidiaries in 2020 was 380 meters per kilogram of textile, while in Finland it was only 141meters.

In 2020 our group CO2 eq emission was 334g/kg. This includes textile washing, drying, finishing, and repairing, as well as the heating and lighting of our premises and also the delivery of textiles to customers. In 2020 we excluded business travel from our CO2 calculation as we consider it to have a less significant environmental impact on our operations.

We are recycling the water in the washing process. Usually rinsing water is recovered back to washing and rinsing is always done with clean water. In some cases, rinsing water can be utilized in heavier soiled washing like from roll towels or work wears to mats washing.

All our wastewater is treated

All our wastewater is manually treated with filters for removing suspended solids, lint, and dirt included in it, before letting it to the municipal sewages. Some laundries also have bigger wastewater treatment facilities depending on the local requirements, then also heavy metals and other harmful substances are removed.

We have selected highly professional detergent suppliers for our partners who provide us with the latest technology and environmentally sustainable processes.  In each laundry, we have automatic dosing systems for washing detergents, which are safe for our employees. Our dosings are highly optimized which means we are not using too heavy dosing’s, and so there is not either any harmful residues left in the textiles after rinsing. Quality of washing and rinsing is guaranteed with automatic follow-up of the dosing system with regular process control measurements.

Our detergents are selected so that they are not harmful to the environment and humans. E.g. we are not using optical brighteners and we are trying to minimize chlorine consumption, which however are still needed for some cases of bleaching heavy stains. In past years we have been able to reduce our Chlorine consumption in Finland with good results, but in other countries, chlorine is still used widely and the usage per washed textile kilos is even increased during 2020. In 2020 our average chlorine consumption was 0,90g/kg. With our new internal environmental reporting system, we can also follow chlorine consumption better than before.