Trucking laundry around, having another worker load/wash/unload/iron and then the sorting / tagging / customer service issues associated with that seems pretty inefficient. It just adds overhead without removing any of the original work. It may be that the washing machines can be more efficient at scale but for that to be the dominant factor the process as a whole would have to be super efficient as well and that is very hard if you start by adding a huge amount of overhead over the original problem.
Having the ability to do your own laundry (especially with small kids) is pretty basic.
I actually don't think that's right. The benefits to the planet of removing 1000 small (household) washing machines and dryers and replacing them with say 10 commercial ones is very very substantial and more than offsets the "work" that's wrapped around providing this as third party service vs doing it yourself.
> The benefits to the planet of removing 1000 small (household) washing machines and dryers and replacing them with say 10 commercial ones is very very substantial
That's not a given without running the numbers. Whole picture statements like these get complicated in a hurry. Manufacturing 1000 small household washing machines creates jobs and so on.
The work to me seems to be such a big factor in this story that all other things being equal you're going to have to make the case either by ignoring a huge number of factors or you're going to have to go by a model that just focuses on the major component of the operation itself (washing).
Household washing machines last quite a long time (10 years or more), are relatively cheap, maintenance free and two steps away from the point of origin of your washing.
Commercial machines are expensive, require frequent maintenance due to increased use, may or may not be more energy efficient and require trucking around washing.
I don't think you can say that the commercial machines are more efficient due to their reduced number because that may not be where the majority of the expense is located.