Every so often someone comes along in our industry with a grand idea to affect major change in hotel operations. I have been fortunate to meet Shawn Seipler, CEO of Clean the World, who has done so much to change the way our industry thinks and acts about soap and amenity waste. Shawn is based in Orlando. Another person I have met is also based in Florida but in Sarasota. His name is Richard Ferrell, and he is President of Purlin, LLC. I first wrote about Purlin in 2018. Richard’s vision is to dramatically change the way hoteliers think about linens. He wants to recycle them after one use, not launder them over and over.
This past week was an important one in Purlin’s progress toward expanding its linen recycling model into the hotel industry. The company announced that it had won the Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Hospitality category. The Lee Business School at UNLV and Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation created a worldwide $1,000,000 Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the goal of discovering and funding innovative technologies and solutions that make the food and beverage, hospitality, casino, sports and entertainment and travel industries a safe place for employees and guests in the post pandemic world. Purlin’s prize in the hospitality category is $250,000. There were 250 submissions from 32 states in nine countries.
Richard has targeted the Las Vegas market as the first location to build upon his business model. The idea is then to replicate that model in other large markets in the United States. The $250,000 prize will go toward building linen inventory for Las Vegas hotels.
The idea of using linen just once comes at a critical time—a time when a pandemic has made just removing the linens from a bed a potentially risky move. (Click here for article.)
Linens are Melted Down
Made of high-quality microfibers designed to simulate cotton—the same as those used in products such as baby diapers and athletic wear—Purlin sheets and pillowcases are produced and recycled by companies based in Mexico and North Carolina. Once heated to 500+ degrees Fahrenheit, the linens are liquefied and become the ingredients for making brand new sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers, thus resulting in zero waste.
Purlin will continue to use manufacturing facilities in Mexico and North Carolina until business reaches critical mass—about 50 to 60 percent of the Las Vegas hotel market. Then he can build a recycling facility in the Las Vegas area.
From an operational (and now safety) standpoint there are many advantages for a hotel. The laundering process and related labor is eliminated. So too are the typical costs for linen replacement. Housekeepers need only roll up the linens for bagging for recycling. After that point, staff no longer need touch the linen.
“We are a great solution for COVID-19. You are sleeping on sheets nobody has slept on,” Ferrell says, adding that his linens have the feel of linens with a thread count of 600 to 800.
Environmentally, linen recycling reduces carbon emissions, chemicals, water, and wastewater treatment. Las Vegas, in recent years, has seen its Lake Mead water supply shrink. Synthetic fibers also are not released into the water supply.
“We want to change forever the way people look at communal-use linens,” Ferrell says.
It will take some time to grow his business in Las Vegas but Ferrell has a great idea that I hope to see expand across the United States and beyond.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.
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