How the Textiles Services Industry is cleaning up its environmental impact

In October 2023, the Textiles Services Association (TSA) held its Autumn conference for commercial textile rental and laundry members. The agenda included environmental matters’, and for good reason.

A laundry will typically supply linen through a rental agreement, collect it when dirty, wash, repair, or replace it if needed, and then return it. This method is intrinsically sustainable because it embraces a circular business model.

The laundry operations aim to make these textile products last as long as possible, even after hundreds of uses with highly optimised energy, water, and detergent usage. However, the preciousness of these commodities is often not fully realised in several parts of the value chain, resulting in significant levels of unaccounted stock volumes.

The TSA reports that annual stock losses on rented linen and towelling to the hospitality industry could be over 60%. For its rented linen and uniforms service to the NHS, the losses are nearly 90%. The scale of this waste becomes substantial when you factor in that the TSA’s members process over 50 million items of linen each week for hospitality and healthcare.

The TSA is driving the change by engaging with its end-user sectors to raise awareness, and providing training support for housekeepers and laundry staff through well-designed guidance and bitesize videos such as Pasha the Pillowcase. The training focuses on the environmental impact of these annual losses, which on water alone equates to 900 million baths tubs of water in the UK for the hospitality sector and 300 million for the NHS.

This project forms part of the laundry industry’s larger sustainability programme where the TSA is developing a roadmap for the industry. Over the last year the TSA has been developing an ambitious sustainability strategy together with Grain Sustainability and as part of this process has now engaged Compare Your Footprint carbon calculation software, and TSA’s Infinite Textiles recycling scheme to establish a harmonised approach to help measure, benchmark and reduce the global industry’s environmental impact.

David Stevens, CEO of the TSA comments: 
“We are extremely proud of the commercial laundry industry’s circular credentials, and we are well-placed to make a difference as we serve most of the primary and secondary sectors in the UK. By working with Grain and Compare Your Footprint, we are doing our part to enable our members to tackle some of the barriers they face today. Our aim is to take our members together on this journey by providing them with the tools and the awareness they need to make well-informed decisions early on.”

Compare Your Footprint will be the central measurement platform for the TSA’s members in the UK and potentially the global industrial laundry sector to set a baseline carbon footprint, identify their carbon hotspots and set targets for reduction.

David Stevens, TSA CEO

Under the TSA’s Infinite Textiles recycling scheme, the TSA and the UK Hospitality Association are working with national stock aggregators such as Salvation Army, charities such as Multi-Bank, recyclers, logistics, and technology partners to deliver a valuable recycling operation for the UK commercial laundry industry. Infinite Textiles is on a mission to facilitate the largest laundry industry textile recycling project in the world.

The industry has mastered the art of reusing textiles, providing an opportunity to pioneer the circular use of products through re-use and recycling. For example, increasing the portion of surgical textiles used within the NHS to reusable options as it is the more sustainable and responsible choice.

Infinite Textiles estimate that the scheme, which encompasses the entire life cycle of the products, will save tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon per year, save billions of litres of water per year, achieve significant efficiencies, and contribute to overall carbon reductions in the future of textile manufacturing.

Jon Cooper, Operations Director at Johnsons Hotel Linen

Jon Cooper, Operations Director of Johnsons Hotel Linen comments:

“The Infinite Textile Scheme can potentially provide a sustainable solution for our industry’s three-tier solution – Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle – to the hundreds of tonnes of linen that has reached its end of primary use. The TSA scheme enables a single focal point for collaboration and partnership between SMEs and large PLC laundry companies such as Johnsons Hotel Linen to achieve a significant step towards a sustainable textile life cycle and avoid sending end-of-life textiles to landfills. Johnsons Hotel Linen is proud to be involved and leading this innovative approach that spans across the value chain and not just recycling.”

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Coming to the congress? Don’t forget to confirm your ticket!

TSA’s 2024 National Congress provides a day of insight and networking

The Textile Services Association (TSA) has announced the lineup for its 2024 National Congress, which takes place on the 1st February 2024 at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. Tickets are going fast, so if you’re a laundry owner or executive who has received an invitation and want to attend you should act fast to ensure you don’t miss out.

The event gives attendees a chance to network with representatives of the biggest companies in the UK, discuss important issues in the laundry industry, and gain insight from a number of keynote speakers and the team from the TSA themselves.

The main keynote speaker will be Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE. With a career that has spanned decades and includes journalism, broadcasting, writing and politics, Lord Finklestein will bring his deep insights and unique perspectives he has learned while working for organisations and institutions like The Times, the House of Lords and Chelsea FC to name but a few.

The congress will also be addressed by noted behavioural economist Roger Martin-Fagg. He has consulted for a wide range of the country’s biggest companies, and is renowned for his ability to explain complex economic concepts in a way that helps businesses to understand how they affect them.

A notable third keynote speaker will be announced in the near future.

Alongside the keynote speakers there will be presentations and panel discussions on topics ranging from the current challenges the industry faces to the movers and shakers of 2024. There will also be a fascinating talk examining the history, culture and sport of the host city Liverpool. In the evening there will be a drinks reception and industry dinner, with entertainment.

The venue is the four star Titanic Hotel based in the heart of Liverpool’s historic Stanley Dock. The event is invite only, so if you have received one and wish to attend please confirm your attendance to the TSA or visit the TSA’s website for more information.

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Meet Pasha, the hotel pillowcase who’s passionate about sustainability

TSA launches simple to understand video guides aimed at reducing lost or damaged linen

Each year the hotel industry loses over 12.5 million pieces of linen, which equates to 61% of the total stock of linen and towelling.  It’s not just a massive cost, but also a real blow to the industry’s sustainability targets.  Now the Textile Services Association (TSA), in association with UKHospitality and the UK Housekeeping Association, has created a simple to understand video designed to train staff about the importance of looking after linen – and the environmental impact of wasting it.  The video tells the life story of Pasha the pillowcase, including how hotel linen is made, how to take care of it, and how looking after it enhances sustainability and saves money.

It’s not just the linen itself that is wasted.  Replacing the 12.5 million lost pieces of linen with freshly made fibres generates 39,000 tonnes of carbon.  Growing the cotton consumes vast amounts of water – the equivalent of 937 million bathtubs full!  That’s enough for every person in the UK to have 14 baths. 

“These are huge figures,” says David Stevens, CEO of the TSA.  “If we are to meet net zero targets we need to find ways to lengthen the lifespan of these textiles.”

This is why the TSA decided to tell the tale of Pasha the Pillowcase, which explains the entire life cycle of linen in a fun, easy to understand form and provides simple tips about how to handle linen – and how not to handle it – in order to ensure that it has as long a working life as possible. Two videos are available, one focused on hotel staff and the second for laundry staff.

The story is told using simple yet clear graphics and a voiceover, allowing staff who might be less confident with reading English to easily understand and grasp the concepts it conveys.

Pasha was launched at the TSA Autumn Conference at a session led by Rona Tait from TDS Commercial and Nigel Graham from Bourne Leisure.

“I’m very proud to be part of the work the TSA, the wider laundry industry, UKHospitality and the UK Housekeeping Association have done to produce Pasha and the training information,” says Rona. “I look forward to working with housekeeping, hotel and laundry teams to get the message over that we all need to play our part in making sure linen gets to the end of its life.”

David Stevens says, “We are very excited at how our partnerships are developing, not only with UKHospitality and the UK Housekeepers Association, but also with major hotel and leisure groups.  Together we can make a real impact in terms of sustainability.” says David Stevens. “Pasha is a simple and fun way to share knowledge and raise awareness of staff in both the laundry and hospitality sectors.  The video explains how even small changes in behaviour can have significant effects.  It’s been designed to be easy to incorporate into existing training programmes.”

Pasha is part of a portfolio of resources aimed at educating both the hospitality and the laundry industry about the importance of looking after textiles and making linen last longer.  Anyone interested in getting to know Pasha can watch the videos and find the other materials on the TSA’s website, by clicking on the hospitality section within the document library. 

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Infinite possibilities: TSA expands scope of its recycling scheme

TSA’s expanded Infinite Textiles recycling scheme aims to reduce carbon footprint of industry

The TSA has launched the second phase of its Infinite Textiles scheme. This significantly expands the scope of the project, and is an exciting opportunity to help reduce the carbon footprint of the laundry industry and of its customers in sectors such as hospitality, manufacturing and healthcare. The accreditation scheme in its latest form is aimed at enabling the laundry industry and its end-user sectors to improve the overall life cycle of its textile products – beginning at the first step in supply all the way to managing the end of primary use.

Until recently, the only established route of ‘recycling’ was to entrust the textile products at the end of primary use to rags and wipers manufacturing processes, which were then either incinerated or sent to landfill after one or two uses. For example, in the hospitality industry, over 6000 tonnes of textiles are currently sent to waste every year. If this can be reused, it can significantly reduce carbon emissions and further improve the sustainability credentials of what is already an incredibly circular model. These products come to the end of their primary use after over a hundred wash cycles.

The growing and harvesting of natural fibres consumes a lot of water and generates a significant amount of CO2 emissions. It takes approximately 20,000 litres of water to grow one kg of cotton, and each hectare of cotton requires a minimum of 400kg of fertiliser, which can vary according to region and different farming techniques. Producing one tonne of nitrogen fertiliser generates around seven tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases, so anything that reduces the requirement for fresh textiles helps to improve the sustainability of any industry that uses them.

Following a successful pilot period, the TSA has evolved the Infinite Textiles project. It now aims to cover the complete life cycle of textile products to ensure that the laundry industry is well informed to make better purchasing decisions and take steps with their supply chains and customers to maximise the longevity of these textile products, and that they are recycled as many times as possible.

As well as helping to reduce carbon footprints, giving textiles as long a working life as possible helps to reduce running costs for industries that use them. Once they have reached the end of their working life, textiles can be processed by TSA members and all suitable materials can be distributed to participating recyclers. This allows the cycle to begin again, with the recovered fabric being used to make new textile products. As recycled textiles use a fraction of the resources required for producing new fabric, this has a significant impact on the environmental effects of industries that use them.

The expanded scheme was launched at an open day event that showed how end-of-life textile products are collected before being sent for recycling. The open day allowed TSA members, suppliers and customers, including representatives of the hospitality industry and healthcare sector, the chance to visit the project’s textile aggregation site in Kettering. They learnt how textiles can be reused for different purposes, or recycled at the end of their standard working lives, and were shown the benefits the project can bring to all industries that rely on textiles and laundry.

“Infinite Textiles is a really exciting project,” says David Stevens, CEO of the TSA. “I am delighted that Johnsons Hotel Linen, Fishers and Clean are working towards this scheme already and expect to get audited before the end of this year. They will be the first of many laundry companies to be operating within the ambitious scope of Infinite Textiles. We’re very happy to be working with our members and other industry bodies such as UKHospitality to make it a reality. It can make a big impact on Net Zero targets throughout all sectors of the economy.”

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TSA highlights successes of government lobbying efforts

The association enters a new age of increased awareness

As part of its mission to ensure the interests of its members and the industry are represented, the Textile Services Association (TSA) has built relationships with MPs across all major parties. They are helping to raise the profile of the industry at governmental level. This would not have been possible without the work of TSA’s newly formed Industry Lobbying Steering Group and, in turn, the connections members have made with their local MPs. the level of wastage.

“We have to raise awareness about the importance of the commercial laundry industry to a number of key sectors including, healthcare, hospitality, pharmaceutical and food,” says Emma Andersson, Director of the TSA. Recently the association organised a cross party meeting at Westminster which was attended by six MPs. Among other things, they discussed the difficulties many laundries faced during lockdown due to the lack of government support. This had been an important catalyst behind the TSA’s renewed lobbying efforts to ensure that the government has the information it needs to include the laundry industry in its thinking.

In particular, with the latest Covid booster programme, frontline health and social care workers are eligible for the vaccine in order to protect themselves and the health of patients. As commercial laundries process over 90% of the NHS’s textiles and need to meet strict standards of hygiene, the TSA contacted MPs to ask if the government was planning on making this booster available to commercial laundry employees. The TSA pointed out that, without the services provided by commercial laundries, 90% of hospitals would be forced to close after just one day.

Following on from this, Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth Ruth Cadbury submitted a written question to the Department of Health and Social Care on the 15th September, asking whether the government would make the booster shot available to laundry workers. While the government responded that it was limiting this round of vaccines to workers at high levels of risk of exposure to vulnerable individuals in care, it demonstrates the progress that has been made in raising awareness of the importance of the laundry industry to the UK economy as a whole. It is also proof that the industry now has commercial laundry advocates within government who are willing to raise these questions on their behalf.

A similar question was asked by Liz Saville Roberts, who represents Dwyfor Meirionnydd for Plaid Cymru, which was answered on 16th October. She also asked her colleague, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, to submit a similar question to the Welsh Government. The TSA has also received responses from Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife.

Further key questions relating to the laundry industry were raised by Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives. He asked whether the Department for Health and Social Care had made an assessment of the potential merits of directing the Care Quality Commission to assess the adequacy of care home laundry hygiene standards. A second question directed at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero asked if it was taking steps to help support commercial laundries to reduce their energy usage. Going forward, further questions will be raised to highlight the key issues the TSA would like the Government to be aware of, and also look into.

The next stage in this process of raising the awareness for MPs and lawmakers about the laundry industry will be taking representatives of the Treasury and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to visit a commercial laundry. There they will gain a real insight into the work the laundry industry has done already in reducing energy consumption and how government support could help the sector to continue improving in this area. This is a win-win, as in turn it will help the government reach their own 2023 targets.

“It is very encouraging to see the TSA’s lobbying messages are finally being heard,” says David Stevens, CEO of the TSA. “We have also been contacted by DEFRA, who are asking us to help with their consultation regarding waste prevention programmes for England. The fact that we have been approached to provide our expertise for this shows that we are on the right track to ensuring the laundry industry is factored in to the government’s future actions.”

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Care home laundering: can UK catch up with Europe?

TSA fact finding visit to Belgium underlines potential for improvements in care home sector

‘Food for thought – and we need to follow the European model.’ Those were the main findings of The Textile Services Association’s (TSA) fact finding mission to Belgium to investigate the difference between practices there and in the UK for laundering in the care home sector. The two day trip took place in early October, with thirty attendees, comprising of TSA commercial laundry members and supply partners to the industry.

On October 3rd they visited CLOVA, a specialist care home processing laundry near Brussels. On October 4th there were various presentations including two panel discussions. The first was by laundry operators from Holland and Belgium, who shared best practice ideas. The second featured supply chain partners who talked about how innovations in machinery, software and chemicals are assisting in meeting specific care home requirements. In addition, TSA presented some of the early findings of its research into the UK care home sector, which was undertaken in partnership with De Montfort University (DMU).

Hygiene best practice is at the top of the agenda in the care homes sector and laundry is a critical area. During the visit it became clear that outsourcing to commercial laundries in Europe is not only more efficient but also more sustainable than laundering on site. What’s more, it ensures that the laundry service complies with appropriate standards (the UK equivalents being BS EN 14065 and HTM-01-04). In addition, it frees up time for staff so they can work more closely with residents. In the UK over 80% of care homes still launder on site. In contrast, most European care homes (90%) outsource their laundry

The DMU/TSA research underlined the need for change. Over 1,000 people working in the UK care home sector took part in the survey, which was designed to gauge behavioural patterns and priorities when it comes to laundering in care homes. The detailed results will be published soon, but they clearly show that that there are gaps in staff training and hygiene management in care homes with regards to laundry processes.

 A key challenge for the commercial laundry industry is the size of the care home sector, which is five times that of the NHS. “The service we already provide to the NHS and some care homes demonstrates that we already have the required expertise and protocols in place,” says David Stevens, CEO of the TSA. “However, the huge volumes involved in the care home sector is a big issue – hence the trip to Belgium to see how laundries there are successfully delivering the service at a large scale, particularly how they process the high volume of residential personal clothing.

“The trip was very informative and I’d like to thank everyone who took part and who helped organise it. As well as demonstrating solutions, the visit and presentations raised many questions. We’re looking forward to working with care homes to deliver those solutions as we continue on this journey.”

The TSA is currently preparing new training and guidance resources for care homes both for those who operate on premises laundries as well as those who outsource to commercial laundries. Meanwhile there several relevant publications on the TSA website, including a care homes technical bulletin. They can be found in the document library at

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