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Drycleaning and Toxics Use Reduction

Project Details

Year: 1996
Location: Arlington, Massachusetts.
Project Manager:

Over 80% of the U.S. professional garment cleaning industry today uses the chemical perchloroethylene to clean clothes. Studies have identified ecological and human health hazards associated with perc usage. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has recommended that perc be handled as a human carcinogen, and the Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a possible human carcinogen. Some dry cleaners use alternative garment cleaning technologies that do not involve perc. Many of these dry cleaners use a petroleum-based solvent, which introduces its own set of risks to worker health, consumer health, and the environment. Others use "wet cleaning", a machine-based process that uses water as the garment cleaning solvent. Finally, a technology that is brand-new to the market cleans clothes with liquid carbon dioxide. Several TURI projects have focused on the development of alternative garment cleaning technologies:

Utopia Cleaners Demonstration Site

In 1996, TURI awarded a grant to Utopia Cleaners of Arlington, Massachusetts, to demonstrate its wet cleaning operations to the public. Utopia Cleaners hosted several open houses where other dry cleaners and the public could examine its wet cleaning machinery and ask questions about the shop's experience. In 1997, TURI published a report summarizing the financial, regulatory, and performance benefits that Utopia Cleaners has enjoyed by adding wet cleaning capacity. A copy of this 13-page report, which is easily understood by the non-technical reader, can be ordered from the TTC (978-934-3136).

Training Curriculum for Alternative Clothes Cleaning

In 1997, TURI published a training curriculum designed to familiarize dry cleaners with alternative garment cleaning technologies. The curriculum (which was developed under an EPA grant) explains how wet cleaning works, how to operate a wet cleaning facility, and how to convert from a dry cleaning to a wet cleaning facility. When TURI piloted this curriculum with an audience of dry cleaners, the participants had an opportunity to gain first-hand experience by actually cleaning garments using the wet cleaning method. A copy of this training curriculum can be ordered from the TTC (978-934-3390). Note: this training curriculum is highly technical and is of interest primarily to professional garment cleaners.

Environmental Technologies Initiative Training Curriculum

Garment Cleaning Technology (Process/Sector Training Module). Under an EPA grant, and in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and others, TURI developed a pollution prevention training curriculum designed specifically for environmental professionals in public agencies. One of the modules in this training curriculum focuses on the pollution prevention options and technology alternatives available in dry cleaning. The module was piloted with an audience drawn from Massachusetts DEP staff. A copy of this training module can be ordered from the TTC (978-934-3136).

Toxics Use Reduction Networking (TURN) Grant

In 1998, TURI awarded a TURN grant to the 500-member Independent Laundry Workers Union, Local 66L, to build labor and community partnerships around toxics use reduction (TUR). The objectives of the grant project include: holding three roundtables for interested labor and community organizations and developing local action plans based on each roundtable; providing technical assistance, training, and support to union members; developing a "factpack" about laundries, dry cleaning, and TUR for unions and community organizations; and developing a set of TUR guidelines and priorities for unions and community organizations to use.

This page updated Monday October 03 2011