New Jersey Based WH Linen Becomes First In Nation Green Certified Linen Co


“Using an item many times before discarding it is a better choice than using an item once before discarding it. Reusables tend to be a better environmental choice than disposables. But, after a restaurant makes the choice to use reusable plates, utensils, and linens, it becomes an important decision of how to wash those items.”

“For plates, cups, and utensils, it is vital to have a spray valve that is less than 1.28 gallons per minute. It is also important to have a very energy and water efficient dishwasher that utilizes the greenest of dish chemicals. With the green cleaning and reusables, you have a recipe for sustainability,” Oshman continued. 

But, what about that nice reusable napkin? Or that elegant tablecloth? Where do those get cleaned? Usually, a restaurant rents the linens and has them cleaned by a company that cleans them… and returns fresh and clean laundered towels, napkins, and tablecloths. What about all the energy, water, and chemicals used in such a process?

As of 2012, the Green Restaurant Association developed an environmental standard that would address the importance of choosing a green linen company. The standard is rigorous and achievable:

  • Company must be certified in TRSA's Clean Green Program, where the company meets the 60 points of tier one BMP's, and an additional 70 points from tier one or tier two BMPs.
  • Company must be audited by TRSA and pass the audit
  • Company must furnish the TRSA audit to the GRA

“We are proud that one company has emerged as the first Green Restaurant Association Endorsed Green Linen Company: W.H. Linen Rental,” Oshman added. They are part of a $5.4 billion per year business servicing linens for the U.S. restaurant industry, but they are the only company that is GRA-Endorsed… and the only company that can earn a restaurant 6.25 GreenPoints™ towards becoming a Certified Green Restaurant®. By using W.H. Linen Rental, restaurants can earn GreenPoints™ in energy, water, and waste.

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The WH. Linen story reads like one of the great movie scripts. Willy Hermanns Sr. (the W.H. in W.H. Linen), started his laundry by making deliveries to bakeries and butcher shops in his Model T truck. As Willy's business outgrew its locations, it moved from West New York to Lyndhurst and then to Paterson into an old silk factory.

From the time that he was young, Willy's son Bill Hermanns worked at his father's linen company. After graduating from Northwestern University in 1967, Bill began working full time at WH, and then took over the business in 1971. In 2008, Bill's son Christopher took the reigns of the company. The visionary leader has become a nationally known expert in predicting and sourcing linen trends for many of the Tri-State and nation's leading food service operators. 

As restaurant, food service, and medical accounts were added (plus a few acquisitions), a second building was added in 1987 to handle the growth. Twelve years later these two buildings couldn't keep up with the growth and WH Linen had to move again. The firm built a brand new 50,000 square foot state-of-the-art plant in Clifton, NJ.

When restaurateurs think of environmental sustainability, they tend to think of recycling, sustainable food, and energy efficiency. “It’s now time that the restaurant industry think about how they are cleaning their most important items. With the Green Restaurant Association’s new endorsement standard… and W.H. Linen Rental being the first company to meet it, restaurants in the eastern seaboard now have an option to have a green linen company service their restaurants,” Oshman concluded.