Drycleaners must take care to comply with environmental laws

Before the rise of the home washing machine, many people hired their washing and laundry out to a professional. While it is now much easier to handle laundry at home than it once was, the wet washing process you rely on from standard laundry washing machines, as well as the forced air heat of most dryers, can do irreparable damage to some kinds of clothing or fabrics.

People often still need to use professional cleaning services, such as dry cleaning services, to handle heirloom, luxury or specialty clothing. Even small towns can usually support one or more professional dry cleaning companies, making them a solid business investment. Whether you already own a dry cleaning business or want to purchase or open one, you need to be aware of the environmental laws that guide dry cleaning companies.

Some of the most effective cleaning agents are bad for the planet

For wet washed laundry, the addition of phosphates can make cleaning agents substantially more effective. However, while phosphates are not toxic, they can contaminate waterways by promoting bacterial and algae growth. The same is not necessarily true of popular dry-cleaning solvents, but that doesn't mean that dry cleaning solvents are harmless.

Some of the chemicals used as dry-cleaning solvents are toxic or dangerous. Improper storage, mixing and disposal can all cause environmental issues. As a result, dry cleaners must comply with state law in a number of ways. Dry cleaners must purchase dry cleaning solvents only from registered suppliers. You will likely need to have any potential staff professionally trained about the proper handling of dry cleaning solvents and the environmental risk they pose.

Dry cleaners can cause air pollution

Some dry cleaning businesses may even need air permits because of the potential for air pollution. Failing to comply with the environmental regulations in place could mean incurring substantial financial penalties or even facing the forced closure of your business.

Many solvents are petroleum-based, which means that your dry cleaning business could compromise local air quality through the release of both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic forms of pollution. Without testing, permits and a compliance plan, dry cleaners could wind up liable for the pollution their company produces.

How can you ensure your dry cleaning business complies with environmental laws?

The more you know about how Tennessee regulates dry cleaners and helps them reduce the environmental impact of their business, the easier it will be for your company to comply. However, rules are changing constantly, and you likely want to spend more time focusing on your business than on environmental laws at the federal and state level.

Investing in adequate staff training, purchasing environmentally friendly solvents from registered suppliers and taking care to adhere to safe disposal practices are all important to your success as a dry cleaner. Beyond that, you may want to work with someone who better understands the codes and laws to ensure ongoing compliance.

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