The year 2019 has been an interesting time for the cleaning, laundry, and sanitation industry. While sustainability continued to be the talk of the town (since Boracay Island’s closure in 2018), the main issue of the year was water. Water shortage in Metro Manila  affected many consumers and laundry businesses, and this continues today in many parts of the metropolis. Meanwhile, more laundry shops have opened and expanded in Manila and outside the capital, ramping up competition. Food safety has also been a growing concern.

Update: Much has changed in 2020. Read my 2021 outlook here

2020 will not be much different. In fact, the issues of 2019 will be amplified further. Here are six of the key trends that will shape this industry:

1. Tourism on the upswing

El Nido in Palawan. Photo by Christian Paul Del Rosario from Pexels

Tourism and hotels, which grew by 14% in terms of international tourist arrivals (January-October 2019), is a major source of demand for the cleaning, sanitation, and laundry industry. Everyday, tons of linens are washed and cleaning detergents consumed to supply the growing demand for accommodations and F&B.

For the cleaning, sanitation, and laundry players, the area of growth is in places outside Metro Manila. Hotels — both local and international chains — have continuously expanded in Tagaytay, Bohol, Batangas, Clark, Davao, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Siargao, Palawan, and Bacolod, among other destinations. Many hotels these days outsource their laundry to service providers as I have written on a previous article, and this has proven to be a lucrative business for those who capitalized on this institutional market.

2. The return of glass bottle washing

Players in the beverage manufacturing industry are returning to the use of returnable glass bottles to combat the negative effects of plastic waste. Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

After bottling companies ditched glass bottles for plastic, there is a move these days globally to bring back the returnable glass bottle in the name of sustainability. F&B Report enumerates some of the initiatives Philippine food industry players are making to lessen the 1.88 million metric tons of plastic the country contributes to global waste annually.

San Miguel Corp. already implements a “zero waste returnable glass bottle system”, among other green initiatives. Marriott Manila plans to replace the 65,000 single-use plastic bottles in its hotel rooms with glass bottles.

What does this mean for the cleaning and sanitation industry? Glass bottle washing equipment would see a comeback, and there will be a drive to produce much efficient ways to sanitize bottles to cope up with the huge demand by consumers.

3. Harvesting water

The water shortage in Metro Manila and other Philippine urban areas such as Cavite, Bulacan, and Baguio has become a concern for laundry operators and cleaning companies. Many proposals have been suggested by lawmakers, from creating new dams to desalination. For many, though, storing water through methods such as rainwater harvesting could provide a quicker and more practical solution to the problem. In fact, the Philippines receives one of the highest rainfall in the world. Unbeknownst to many, we already have a law that mandates rainwater collectors in barangays — a solution to the water crisis in the ’80s. Is it time for laundry operators to invest on rainwater harvesting?

4. The rebirth of steam-powered laundry

Waste-to-energy (WTE) is a growing concept in the Philippines that aims to harness energy from waste materials to power any business, including laundry and cleaning operations. WTE is a huge opportunity in a country that produces 40,000 metric tons of waste every day, including tons of food waste from hotels and restaurants that can produce powerful methane as an energy source.

WTE will be a big deal in the laundry industry as it can potentially drive the rebirth of steam as a power source of laundry.

Today’s laundry are typically powered by LPG. WTE powers laundry operations by converting waste into steam, which will be the energy source to run machines and equipment. With the rising cost of electricity and LPG, WTE and steam will be new areas to watch for businesses sensitive with rising prices of utilities.

5. Laundromats: growing but slower?

Every neighborhood in Metro Manila likely has two or more laundromats, each fighting for a share of the local market share. Photo by Daria Sannikova from Pexels

There’s no definite figure for the number of laundromats in the Philippines. The Philippine Statistics Authority combines them as part of the 66,000 small businesses under “other service sectors” (including spas, wellness centers, repair shops, etc.) in 2018. But there’s no denying of the remarkable boom of the industry over the last couple of years. Now every neighborhood likely has two or more laundromats, each fighting for the customer through price or service.

While 2020 will still be a year of expansion for laundry shops, I believe there will be a correction in the market for oversupply — if there is — especially in Metro Manila. As I see it, entrepreneurs need to have a clear understanding of both the business and science of laundry (In 2019, I listed down the many signs of a failing laundry service provider). Laundromats who are unable to figure out the right utility costing, pricing, processes, and marketing (and address challenges, such as water shortage) will fold and let the better competition take over.

6. Consumers want to know if their food is safe

The end goal of everything we do in the cleaning, sanitation, and laundry industry to providing customers with healthy, clean, and safe products.

In 2019, we have seen a number of cases that impacted customer choices. Incidents on African Swine fevermethanol poisoning in coconut liquor, bird flu, and the likes have pushed buyers to ask more questions about the food they eat.

Hotels, restaurants, food manufacturers, and suppliers will be investing more on food safety training in 2020. The focus shouldn’t just be on science of making food, but also on practical and technological aspects of sanitizing the environment the surround food — operating the dish washing machine, decoy system, and the likes.

Are you looking to improve your cleaning, laundry, and sanitation operations in 2020? Are you looking for a trainer and expert in the field? Email: