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Big changes in dry cleaning business

Posted: May 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Actor Ed Begley Jr., Flair customer, endorses Flair Cleaners' use of the reusable Green Garmento laundry and garment bag.

The dry cleaning industry has been undergoing radical changes in the past two decades as environmentalists and consumers push for more earth-friendly cleaning processes.

Some of the changes forced on cleaners – many of which were operated by small mom and pop business owners – were costly and painful, such as when in 2007 California banned the chemical most commonly used in the dry cleaning process, perchloroethylene.

Industry analysts said that environmental regulations cut into the profits during the same period as the recession, market research company IBIS World has predicted the industry will begin to recover.

And as the industry grappled with fundamental changes, it also began to voluntarily adopt more earth-friendly practices.

In 2012, the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute launched a steel hanger recycling program. The group projects that there will more than 35 million fewer hangers in landfills as a result of the program. In 2013, the 30 million hangers the group helped to recycle represented 900 tons of steel.

Others, like Burbank-based Flair Cleaners with a location in Santa Clarita, have begun offering a reusable, breathable, garment bag called The Green Garmento.

First introduced on ABC’s Shark Tank, Flair’s combination laundry bag, duffle bag, hanging garment bag eliminates the need for single-use paper and plastic wrapping.

The all-purpose bag is produced by Los Angeles-based The Green Garmento and the company saw its revenues rise 60 percent in 2013 and its product is now used by more than 1,000 cleaners.

Some 10 percent of Flair’s customers have adopted use of the bag, Owner Gary Futterman told the media.

Use of the bag had led to a savings of more than 14,000 pounds of plastic bags and paper hanger covers. In 2013, the cleaner eliminated more than 8,000 pounds, four tons, of packaging from their operation, he said.

“Our customers in all five of our locations love The Better Bag for a number of reasons. They are good for the environment, eliminate closet clutter, and make dropping off and picking up dry cleaning more convenient,” Flutterman said. “As the initiative gains momentum, we expect our savings to grow significantly.”



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