February, 2020 - A Kirkland dry cleaner, Classic One Cleaners, took massive steps this month to green their operations and prevent toxic pollution to our air, water, and soil. They are the city’s first dry cleaner to take advantage of the Department of Ecology’s new program to help dry cleaners offset the costs of eliminating and replacing old equipment that uses perchloroethylene, or PERC, in their cleaning equipment.
PERC is a dry-cleaning solvent that has been nearly universally used by dry cleaners for decades. Unfortunately, the improper use, storage, and disposal of PERC has resulted in contamination of groundwater, soil, and air around dry-cleaning sites across the country. PERC is also likely to be cancer-causing in humans and potential nerve and brain damage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Through Ecology’s new program, Puget Sound dry cleaners can receive reimbursements up to $20,000 for upgrading to environmentally friendly wet cleaning practices.
According to the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, wet cleaning is a “water-based process that uses computer-controlled washers and dryers, biodegradable detergents, and specialized equipment to process delicate garments that would otherwise need to be dry cleaned.”
Classic One Cleaners has invested substantial resources in properly disposing of their old equipment and upgrading their operations. These efforts make them the first dry cleaner in Kirkland to switch fully to newer and safer wet cleaning equipment. Working with City of Kirkland pollution prevention staff, Classic One was able to take advantage of Ecology’s reimbursement funds, as well as additional rebates from the King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program to substantially offset their costs.
“Kirkland is strongly committed to supporting businesses to manage potential sources of pollution in the most environmentally friendly way possible,” said Rachel Konrady, the City of Kirkland’s Surface Water Planner and Pollution Prevention Program Coordinator. “The Pollution Prevention Assistance Program is an excellent partnership between the City and local businesses to help implement meaningful changes to keep our streams, wetlands, and lakes clean.”
With 15 of 17 dry-cleaners in Kirkland now cleaning without PERC machines, the City hopes Kirkland can be one of the first Puget Sound cities to be completely PERC-free. City pollution prevention staff are currently working with the remaining Kirkland dry cleaners who use PERC in their machines to provide technical assistance throughout the replacement process.