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Safer wet cleaning program piloted in King County to reduce exposure to dangerous chemical going statewide this month

Summary

Since 2018, King County’s Hazardous Waste Management Program has helped local businesses switch to an environmentally safer dry-cleaning method that reduces exposure to the dangerous chemical perchloroethylene (PERC). The County program has ended, now that a statewide program is in place to help dry cleaners around the state eliminate the use of PERC.

Story

The Hazardous Waste Management Program’s hwmp_2021“PERC-Free King County by 2025” program ends this month, thanks to an increase in statewide funding to help dry cleaners using perchloroethylene (PERC) switch to professional wet cleaning. Washington Department of Ecology funding of up to $40,000 per business will allow dry cleaners statewide, not just in King County, to switch to safer cleaning technology. 

The Haz Waste Program’s goal was to eliminate the use of PERC in all King County dry cleaners by 2025. So far, the Haz Waste Program has switched 30 drycleaner shops from PERC to wet cleaning. 

With this new statewide funding the Haz Waste Program can now shift its voucher program to other industries.  

“We are very proud that the Haz Waste Program’s project led to statewide adoption of a $40,000 voucher available to all PERC dry cleaners,” said King County Haz Waste Program Director Lynda Ransley. “On average it costs between $50,000 and $60,000 for a PERC dry cleaner to switch to wet cleaning. Increasing the grant funds addresses a major barrier for shops wanting to switch.”

Previously, both the Haz Waste Program and Ecology offered $20,000 vouchers to PERC dry cleaners. This led to King County shops having to sign multiple vouchers to reimburse their equipment improvements.

Cleaners in other counties only received $20,000 Ecology grants. The result was more shops switched in King County than other counties. In the 2021 legislative session, Ecology secured increased capital funding of their Product Replacement Program so that $40,000 could be offered to shops across the state. Ecology’s new funding will be available through at least June 2023.

For more information about the statewide program visit Ecology’s PERC equipment website. More information about the King County Haz Waste Program’s dry cleaning transition program is available in Haz Waste Program’s technical report: Converting PERC Dry Cleaners to Professional Wet Cleaning: A Pilot Program.

RELEVANT LINKS

Technical Report: Converting PERC dry cleaners to professional wet cleaning – A pilot program 
Washington Department of Ecology Guidance and Technical Assistance: Replace PERC equipment

QUOTES

We are very proud that the Haz Waste Program’s project led to statewide adoption of a $40,000 voucher available to all PERC dry cleaners. On average it costs between $50,000 and $60,000 for a PERC dry cleaner to switch to wet cleaning. Increasing the grant funds addresses a major barrier for shops wanting to switch.

Lynda Ransley, Hazardous Waste Management Program

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Doug Williams, 206-477-4543

About Hazardous Waste Management Program of King County
At the Hazardous Waste Management Program, we come to work every day because we want to protect and improve public health and environmental quality in King County. With our partners, King County Solid Waste Division, King County Water and Land Resources Division, Public Health – Seattle & King County, Seattle Public Utilities, and Sound Cities Association, we’re working towards a shared vision: a Puget Sound region that’s the cleanest in the country, free from hazardous chemical exposure.