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Dry Cleaners Use ‘Perc’ Altnernative, Recycled Coat Hangers

dry-cleaning.jpgSeattle-based startup Blue Sky, one of just 35 dry cleaners in the U.S. to use toxin-free carbon dioxide to clean clothes, bought a conventional competitor and is converting it to its brand over the next two years.

Four Seasons’s two locations, which generated $1.7 million in revenue this year, was typical in that it used energy-consuming, fabric-damaging high temperatures to clean clothes. More importantly, it also used perchloroethylene, a toxic and environmentally hazardous chemical known commonly as “perc.”

Perc is known to cause cancer, and 70 percent of the perc used in dry cleaning ends up in the water supply, Blue Sky claims on its website. Still, the chemical has been commonplace at the majority of U.S. dry cleaners for about 40 years.

Several states are gradually outlawing perc – but Washington is not one of them, writes the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Blue Sky’s alternative to perc is carbon dioxide, liquified in a conventional air compressor. (Its cleaning process also doesn’t require heat.) The process cleans just as well as perc and the cost is the same, so the company does not have to make consumer pay a higher price to be green.

In other clothing news, coat hangers are becoming more of a nuisance, as 30-40 billion enter the country each year as part of a piece of imported apparel, and recycling the mix of metal, tissue paper, foam, fabric and seven different kinds of plastic is a big challenge for US centers.

Some 85 percent of plastic hangers end up in landfills, Fox News reports.

Mountain Valley Recycling, founded in 2003, is trying to alleviate the problem by working directly with retailers to take in the raw materials and turn it into commercially viable plastic.  Oakland, CA-based Ditto Hangers – a subsidiary of Green Heart Global – does the same with retail clients like L.L. Bean and the Gap, but also sells back to consumers.

Dry cleaners – nailed by a dramatic increase in the price of wire hangers due to a new tariff – have the option of using EcoHangers, which are made from 100 percent recycled material, for no charge. The nape of each hanger is used as ad space for participating companies such as Staples, Levi Strauss, and Miller.

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