"Towards cleaner Dry Cleaning with liquid Carbon Dioxide"
Towards cleaner Dry Cleaning with liquid Carbon Dioxide An environmentally-friendly dry cleaning process has been developed within the DETECTIVE 2000-2004 Life project. A trademark based on the new process was launched in 2006 and shops are appearing in European towns. Standard dry cleaning processes are commonly based on the use of perchloroethylene (perc), a chlorine-containing solvent. This product is harmful for both human health and the environment. Since it uses this solvent, the dry cleaning industry falls into the scope of the European directive that sets targets for the reduction of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) use in industry (The VOC Solvents Directive). The European Volatile Organic Compound Solvents Directive The VOC Solvents Directive is the main policy instrument for the reduction of industrial emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the European Community. It covers a wide range of solvent- using activities, e.g. printing, surface cleaning, vehicle coating, dry cleaning and manufacture of footwear and pharmaceutical products. The VOC Solvents Directive establishes emission limit values for VOCs in waste gases and maximum levels for fugitive emissions (expressed as a percentage of solvent input) for solvent using operators. The emission reductions could be achieved by substituting products with a high content of solvents with low-solvent or solvent-free products and changing to solvent free production processes. See the European Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/stationary.htm#3 The DETECTIVE LIFE project - developing a greener dry cleaning process Involving partners from five EU Member States, this three year project was designed to assess feasibility and conduct full scale experiments on alternatives to perc in dry cleaning. Four methods were tested, especially the use of liquid carbon dioxide (LCO2). Pilot demonstration units in the Netherlands and Denmark proved the social, environmental and economic benefits of the new method. • A safer alternative: LCO2 replaces harmful perc, which is safer for onsite employees. • A greener choice: LCO2 enables companies to comply with the VOC solvent directive. Replacing perc with LCO2 throughout Europe would eliminate annual emissions of 70,000 tonnes of perc into the atmosphere. LCO2 is non-toxic and causes no groundwater contamination. Moreover, this component is produced in large quantities as a by-product in oil refining and ammonia production. • Good cleaning properties were obtained by the process. Moreover, the LCO2 based process respects fabric shapes and colours better than the conventional process. Fewer textile fibres and shiny applications were lost than with conventional cleaning agents. The process is also almost twice as fast. • A cheaper process: a comprehensive cost analysis showed that the overall costs of LCO2 textile cleaning are 20% lower than those of perc dry cleaning. This result is mainly due to the shorter turnaround time of LCO2 textile cleaning (two cycles per hour compared to two cycles per 1.5 hour for perc dry cleaning). March 2007 1/2 http://ec.europa.eu/environment/etap Successful marketing of the new process The LIFE project also supported the establishment of a franchise textile-cleaning organisation by project partner Linde Group (a Swedish world-leading industrial gas and engineering company). To this end, in 2006 Linde group created a specific trademark, Fred Butler®. In May 2006, the textile cleaning method was awarded the coveted 'Nordic Swan' label, a major eco label in Europe. In addition to launching this greener cleaning process in Europe, the company innovated in its marketing strategy. This fast-growing company represents the first pan-European branch and franchise system in the textile cleaning sector, in which small independent shops are the usual business form. The company is now operating in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany with more than 30 shops. Stores are located close to consumers in city centres, shopping areas or as a shop-in-shop system in department stores and shopping centres. Moreover, it provides specific services such as a pick-up and return service targeting busy consumers. The first Fred Butler Shop in Germany, located in the banking district of Frankfurt/Main PHOTO: Fred Butler For more information: • LIFE DETECTIVE project: see the Best LIFE Environment 2005-2006 brochure. • Website of the company using the dry cleaning process: http://www.fredbutler.com/index.asp March 2007 2/2 http://ec.europa.eu/environment/etap