"We want to be good environmental stewards," said Michael Lutz, president and CEO of American Linen and Uniform Supply.
Lutz describes his industry, which furnishes and launders uniforms, aprons, sheets, towels, and dust-control mats for multiple regional companies - hotel/motel, health care, restaurants and bars - as "the second largest recycler there is, focusing on reusable versus disposable items."
Every week, American Linen processes approximately 150,000 to 200,000 pounds of laundry.
That's a lot of laundry, using a lot of water, and creating a lot of wastewater. Lutz explains that large batch washers/extractors that launder 450 to 900 pound loads use approximately 20 percent of the energy and water that a home washer would use doing the same amount of laundry.
"This company shines in pollution prevention and water conservation. American Linen reuses rinse water on site and pre-treats its own wastewater before releasing that effluent into the city sewer collection system," said Pollution Prevention Manager Mark Rodriguez at Las Cruces Utilities. "The company invests in applicable technology and implements the best practices necessary to manage their environmental impact."
American Linen also operates its own small wastewater treatment plant on-site using a Dissolved Air Flotation processor before releasing wastewater into the sewer system. The DAF uses heat recovery, balanced pH, and bentonite clay injection and removal to capture pollutants and grease from the laundry water.
American Linen is divided into two plants - one for garments, and a second plant that processes towels, sheets, and large dust control mats. The business cleans 4,000 of the dust mats (measuring 12 to 180 square feet) every week. These are the large mats you walk across in the entryways of retail establishments and restaurants as you go in the door. Lutz explains 70 to 80 percent of the soil in any facility comes in on the shoe bottoms of people walking in. The mats capture a large percentage of that dirt, thus reducing the cleaning needed in the store.
And finally, every bundle of clean linens goes back to the client wrapped in Kraft Natural Brown paper with 100 percent cotton twine. Lutz says he has been asked numerous times to switch to plastic wrappers.
"We use the natural products, because I know this material will be decomposing very quickly into an organic state in a landfill," he said.
That's the kind of attention to environmental detail that makes American Linen an environmentally friendly business for Las Cruces Utilities and the city.