Clean and Grean - Dry Cleaning and the Environment
Dry Cleaners Recycle Almost Everything
Long before recycling was recognized as a critical step toward preserving our environment, it was practiced by the dry cleaning industry. We recycle almost everything – from used cleaning solvent to unclaimed garments! Here are some of the ways dry cleaners keep waste to an absolute minimum:
Dry cleaning Solvent
dry cleaning solvent is readily reused and recycled on-site through distillation, filtration and drying. Special stills and filters remove impurities from used solvent, leaving it crystal-clear and ready to be used again. As garments are dried, solvent vapors are recaptured and condensed back to liquid form to reuse.
Polyethylene Garment Bags and Hangers
Today most dry cleaners participate in programs through their supply distributors to recycle Polyethylene (“poly”) garment bags and hangers. Often special recycling bins are provided in the front counter area. It’s a good idea for customers to first remove all staples and tags or receipts before returning bags.
Dry cleaners even recycle clothing – taking the thousands of garments that go unclaimed each year to charitable organizations and clothing banks to be distributed to the needy. We also help others to recycle through programs such as “Cold Days, Warm Hearts,” with Robert Horry as our chairman. This program encourages consumers to bring in unwanted clothing and coats to a participating dry cleaner for free cleaning and repair. The dry cleaner then turns them over to the SAMMinistries and to the Christian Assistance Ministry.
Demonstrating Concern for the Environment
The majority of the country’s 30,000 dry cleaners are small, neighborhood, family-run businesses, often with spouses and children involved in day-to-day operations. As an industry, we pay close attention to proper waste disposal, emission controls and other environmental and safety precautions. We take pride in our efforts to keep the environment clean and safe for future generations.
Because of our industry’s high professional and ethical standards, we have always taken the lead in voluntary environmental compliance and support of environmentally responsible legislation.
For example, most dry cleaners used hazardous waste disposal methods to dispose of solvent residue and used filters, although only one-half of the industry is actually required to do so. The solvent used by most dry cleaners for half a century does not contribute to smog formation, deplete the stratospheric ozone layer or contribute to global warming.
In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commended the dry cleaning industry for taking an active role in developing a proposed amendment to the Clean Air Act of 1990. The new rule would require all but the smallest dry cleaners to install special equipment to reduce emissions of solvent.
Over the past 20 years, the majority of dry cleaners have voluntarily invested in sophisticated equipment that ensures that little or no solvent is released into groundwater or the atmosphere. Our goal is to completely eliminate waste in all aspects of the dry cleaning process- from solvent to polyethylene bags.