Text: Juliane Gringer
MEWA Textil-Service provides an especially sustainable sharing service for workwear and cleaning cloths. The company will bring the first two BAX models to the streets of Berlin in January: the 7.5 ton vehicles with electric drives will make transport emission-free and will provide all kinds of comfort for drivers.
Linen changes in a Berlin mechanics garage: the drivers of MEWA Textil-Service AG & Co stops by every two weeks to bring the team a large sack of freshly washed work trousers and shirts. The textiles all have the vehicle operator’s logo. The MEWA driver hangs the clothes in the garage changing room where there is closet space available where barcodes clearly show which items belongs to each person. The driver takes the sack of used laundry away again, along with the safety container holding used Mewatex cleaning cloths. These are used by customers to wipe up oil, grease and paint and these hazardous materials need to be properly disposed of, even if they have been absorbed by the cloths. This is a task that Mewa undertakes, and sustainably too.
An almost perfect cycle
The textiles are cleaned again in in-house laundries. “At the end of the washing processes, the water goes to our wastewater treatment plants, where we can filter out 99.8 percent of the pollutants. So we also treat our wastewater ourselves,” says Simon. “The washed-out oils and greases are converted back into new energy in our combined heat and power plants. This means we can cover up to 80% of the energy required for our dryers and car washes” An almost perfect cycle. And a conscious decision is made to ensure that the textiles themselves are also produced sustainably: the cleaning cloths, designed to be reused, are made in Germany from high-quality cotton. And in the area of workwear, among other things, Mewa launched “PEAK” in 2021, a collection whose fabric is largely made from recycled PET bottles and is particularly elastic, breathable and thermo-regulating.
The next building block: BAX
Quiet, free of vibrations – and no more emissions
For Kay Simon, the drive train of the future is CO2-neutral – regardless of the technology. “We are open to all concepts, but we deliberately don’t use bridging technologies such as CNG, LNG or hybrid vehicles because we really want to use purely CO2-neutral technologies. This also means that the electric vehicles in the fleet are only charged with electricity generated from renewable sources. At the moment, however, Simon sees battery-electric vehicles predominantly in urban areas. For heavy transporting over long distances, Mewa relies on hydrogen-powered vehicles from Hyundai.
No “fig leaf” project
In big cities, the pressure on service providers like Mewa is growing due to diesel driving bans, the lack of parking spaces, and congested roads. Among other things, the company is responding with a new distribution concept and is using space in multi-storey car parks to install hubs there. These already exist in Hamburg and Berlin. In underground garages, cargo bikes pick up deliveries and bring them to customers in a CO2-neutral way as well. “However, we can’t deal with the soiled cleaning cloths, which we have to declare as hazardous goods, in this way,” says Simon. “That’s where BAX helps us – it makes it through the city centre easily with its compact size.” Mewa even wants to take it to Paris: in the course of the Olympic Games there will be a general ban on diesel vehicles entering the city from January 2024. “We hope that we will be able to use BAX in the French capital in the future.”
Ergonomic loading and unloading
In order to take a load off the drivers, Kay Simon also looks at the vehicles from the point of view of ergonomics: “The low cab on the BAX scores points in this respect because you can get in and out of it very easily and in a way that’s easy on the joints. In addition to the tail lift, one of the first two vehicles ordered also has a side door positioned on the passenger side away from the traffic, i.e. facing the pavement. It will be even easier to remove and load the laundry bags in this way. “We want the drivers to have as little stress as possible and we want to relieve them of physical strain. Because they should also have a sustainable job and they should like working for us.”
Mewa belongs to the largest textile service company in Europe. With 46 locations in 14 countries, it services over 190,000 customers. Around 1.1 million people wear work clothing from Mewa at their job. The company also washes around one billion cleaning cloths every year. The service provider offers textile sharing with an all-round service: instead of buying workwear and being responsible for its care, companies can rent it from Mewa – including cleaning, care and maintenance and, if desired, with their own branding.