UMass Lowell's TURI Awards $17,000 Matching Grant to Silver Hanger Cleaners of Bellingham
Lowell, MA, February 19, 2008 -- The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell today awarded Silver Hanger Cleaners of Bellingham, Massachusetts a $17,000 matching grant to switch to 100% wet cleaning technology to eliminate the use of perchloroethylene (perc).
The grant will help fund the purchase and installation of wet cleaning equipment, a safer alternative that allows "dry-clean-only" clothes to be washed with water and detergents in computer controlled machines and then finished with tensioning and pressing equipment.
Mark Isabelle, owner of Silver Hanger Cleaners for 14 years, will renovate his existing store at 5A Mechanic Street in Bellingham, remove the perc machine, and install the wet cleaning equipment. He expects to begin offering environmentally friendly cleaning to customers in May 2008. A portion of the grant money will fund the collection of before and after data such as utility and maintenance costs and the quality of clothes and customer satisfaction.
"I'm convinced that wet cleaning is the future for the dry cleaning business," said Mark Isabelle. "The writing is on the wall that perc is on its way out. But rather than see it as a negative, I see it as an opportunity to grow my business by marketing a green cleaning solution to my customers who are concerned about the environment."
Silver Hanger Cleaners is also receiving $2,500 from National Grid for converting to a more energy efficient process.
"National Grid is pleased to provide this grant to help Silver Hanger Cleaners move to a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly cleaning process," said Mark Siegal, program manager for the Small Business Services Energy Efficiency Program at National Grid. "Energy efficiency is the quickest, easiest, and least expensive option to help the region reduce rising electricity usage, while mitigating climate change. We at National Grid know energy efficiency works."
The garment cleaning company will collect cost data and analyze the differences between using perc and using wet cleaning technologies. TURI will use this information to encourage cleaners to convert to wet cleaning before regulatory pressures increase.
With older wet cleaning equipment, some cleaners found it necessary to still use perc machines for some fabrics. Now because of new and improved technology, wet cleaning can be used for 100% of garments.
"Were're excited to showcase this small business leader to demonstrate to other cleaners that 100% wet cleaning offers both economic and customer satisfaction benefits without risking health effects from perc," said Joy Onasch, TURI Community Program Manager.
Perc, a solvent widely used in garment cleaning, is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.