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Going Green in a Post-Perc World

Your Views survey explores dry cleaners’ environmental attitudes

CHICAGO — The environmental impact of dry cleaning has been long debated, and with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discussing the eventual prohibition of the use of perchloroethylene (perc), many cleaners are examining their own practices. For this American Drycleaner “Your Views” survey, we asked or respondents about their actions and attitudes on this topic. 

When we asked our audience if they advertised their business as “green,” “organic,” “environmentally friendly” or something similar, almost half (47%) reported that they did, while 35% responded “no,” and 15% said “no, but we’re considering it.”

The practice of wetcleaning is often seen as a more environmentally friendly practice in cleaning clothes, and, in our pool of respondents, 85% offer this as an option. 

As for other strategies our respondents implement at their plants to lessen their environmental impact, 80% reported that they recycle hangers, poly and other materials, while 66% said they use alternative solvents, rather than perc. A little more than half (56%) use equipment designed to conserve energy and 35% offer reusable or biodegradable packaging. A further 9% said that they use alternative fuel or electric vehicles for delivery.

When asked why those who did market their company as “green” did so, answers included:

  • People are searching for green alternatives, and it aligns with my personal beliefs.
  • The larger point we try to convey to the customer is that dry cleaning is, in fact, far greener than processing your clothes at home or buying alternative fabrics that do not need to be professionally cleaned.
  • We know our customers care about this, and we want them to know we share their sentiment and concern about protecting the world for future generations.

And, for those who don’t market their company as “green,” answers as to why included:

  • It’s a fad. Dry cleaners have always recycled. I’m proud of my business — I will not be shamed into thinking differently.
  • It’s not popular in my area. 
  • The general public has become desensitized to the terms “Green” and “Eco” — most don’t believe them. The people who have environmental concerns about dry cleaning stopped coming in many years ago and are not going to come back because of a tag line. 
  • There is no standard for being “green,” We market our wet cleaning cleaning options. Customers who care about being green have found us that way.

The “Your Views” survey offers a current snapshot of the trade audience’s views. The publication invites qualified subscribers to American Drycleaner emails to participate anonymously in the unscientific poll each quarter.         

Going Green in a Post-Perc World
Going Green in a Post-Perc World

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].