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National Clothesline
TURI grants help cleaners convert to wetcleaning
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The future for the drycleaning industry is all wet — at least it will be if the Toxics Use Reduction Institute has anything to say about it.
The institute is trying to advance the knowledge of professional wetcleaning by presenting live cleaning demonstrations and it is also encouraging plant owners to change from using perchloroethylene to the water-based cleaning method by offering financial grant incentives.
In late November, TURI planned a professional wetcleaning demonstration at KMK Cleaners in Walpole, MA, giving attendees an opportunity to witness professional wetcleaning in action and learn how to produce a quality finished product.
The point of the program was to give the owners of KMK Cleaners a chance to explain why they made the switch to wetcleaning, how they handled employee training and customer feedback during the change and how it has since helped them save money on utilities, operations and maintenance costs, regulatory fees and waste management.
Anyone who walks away from such a demonstration with an interest in wetcleaning should be aware of TURI’s program that offers incentive grants of up to $15,000 awarded to Massachusetts’ cleaners who qualify for the program.
In order to be eligible as a grant recipient, applicants need to be a commercial cleaner in Massachusetts committed to converting their drycleaning operations to dedicated professional wetcleaning.
The money in the grant can be used to help fund the purchase and installation of professional wetcleaning equipment.
Facilities interested in applying must first complete a proposal, which includes a commitment letter from the company owner.
The letter must also demonstrate the owner’s ability to acquire the remainder of the financing for the conversion, as well as an aggressive timetable for the plan.
Once a grant is awarded, the recipient must begin a process of collecting operations data including one year of past data based on the use of perc and then, subsequently, one year of data as an operating wetcleaner.
Such data includes: the number of customer claims, energy consumption, water usage, product throughput, load capacity, worker health issues, ergonomic concerns, training time requirements and chemical purchase, storage and handling costs.
Information from grantees will be tabulated (with the help of TURI) for a case study report that will offer an overview of the process, including an examination of any resulting reduction in toxic chemical usage and hazardous emissions and a breakdown of the challenges and benefits associated with conversion.
Once completed, the full report will be made publicly available via TURI’s website at www.turi.org/drycleaning. That address is also a good starting point for cleaners to visit if they are interested in taking part of the incentive program.
In addition to being a part of the case study, Grantees will be asked to participate in future wetcleaning demonstrations, such as the recent one at KMK Cleaners, where their successes can be shared with other cleaners who might be considering making the switch from perc.
For more information on the proposal process, contact Joy Onasch, TURI’s Community and Small Business Program Manager, at (978) 934-4343.

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