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Pollution Prevention Institute aims to reduce dry-cleaning hazards

Rochester Business Journal
August 9, 2010

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute has launched a statewide program to minimize chemical use in garment cleaning and reduce the health and environmental impacts of the industry, the institute announced Monday.

Based out of Rochester Institute of Technology, the institute will conduct a survey of garment-cleaning businesses in New York and give multiple demonstrations, training sessions and direct technical assistance to businesses in converting dry-cleaning operations to more environmentally friendly professional wet-cleaning processes.

The reduction in chemical use will reduce clean-up and regulatory costs to businesses and increase competitiveness within the sector, Pollution Prevention Institute officials said.

Kate Winnebeck, wet-cleaning program manager, said the dry-cleaning industry is an important source of jobs and economic development and provides a necessary service to society.

“However, the garment-cleaning process traditionally uses a number of environmentally sensitive chemicals,” Winnebeck said.  “Professional wet cleaning uses water as the cleaning solvent, creating a greener process, while also using less water and energy than conventional dry cleaning.”

Based on data provided by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, the state’s garment cleaners use more than 130,000 gallons of perchloroethylene annually resulting in the emission of over 115 metric tons of the chemical into the atmosphere each year.

The RIT team is surveying garment-cleaning businesses to identify the distribution of alternative solvents and the industry’s attitude towards them to understand the gaps and barriers dry cleaners face in the state.

The survey will be used to develop outreach and educational materials on wet cleaning for both the garment -leaning industry and its consumers, officials said. Researchers also will work with individual businesses to convert operations to wet cleaning, providing data comparisons on quality, energy use and cost of the two processes.

(c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.

 


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