Scientific studies: Professional textile cleaning; up to 3 times more environmental friendly compared to domestic laundry

Sustainability is a basic value for professional textile cleaning. In the past different projects are set up commissioned by NETEX partnering with CINET resulting in measures and work methodologies that can guarantee a safe, sustainable and environmental friendly professional textile cleaning operation. With the implementation of these “Best Parctices” the professional textile cleaning is a very sustainable industry.

 

Environmental impact analysis

To determine the environmental impact of state of the art dry cleaning operation according to the best practices, Dutch research institutes TKT and TNO executed several studies, commissioned by NETEX partnering with CINET [1, 2, 3]. A scientific study is performed by TKT and TNO on the environmental impact of domestic textile cleaning compared with professional textile cleaning [1, 2]. The most important result is that the environmental impact of professional textile cleaning is 2 to 3 times lower compared to the impact of the average domestic laundering, when best practices are applied.

Recently a review report is published on water and energy consumption of domestic laundry worldwide, by TKT and professor Stamminger of the Bonn University [3]. The data from this report is used to check and review the results of the environmental study as performed by TKT and TNO [1, 2, 4].

The environmental impact of domestic textile cleaning has been compared with professional textile cleaning on ten different aspects, amongst which exhaustion of resources, human toxicity, acidification and climate change. In the study, the following processes are compared:

  • Domestic laundering
  • Professional cleaning and drying with PERC
  • Professional cleaning and drying with HCS
  • Professional cleaning and drying with IPura HCS
  • Professional cleaning and drying with IPura Siloxan D5
  • Professional cleaning and drying with Siloxan D5
  • Professional cleaning and drying with Solvon K4
  • Professional cleaning and drying with Wet cleaning

The study is taking into account:

  • The environmental impact of used energy sources during cleaning and drying
  • The impact of the production of the used products and materials
  • The impact of the emissions during cleaning and drying (including waste water treatment)

What is excluded from the study is the possible pre- and after treatment of garments, the impact of the surrounding area on the process and the impact related to the production, maintenance and discharge of the equipment itself.

In this study, the method of shadow costs (expressed in euro’s) of every environmental effect is used to make them comparable. For this analysis, Simapro software and the Ecoinvent databases are used to determine the effect and express the environmental effects in euros. The results are shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Environmental impact of professional textile cleaning compared with domestic laundering [2]

The environmental impact of domestic laundry is relatively strong influenced by the drying process used. When more laundry is dried in a dryer, the environmental impact will increase. Currently, on average, 46% of the domestic laundry in Western Europe is dried in a dryer. This percentage is increasing over the time. More and more households have a dryer at their disposal. From the household who own a dryer, the dryer is used in 72.5% of the cases to dry the textiles [2].

 

Energy and water use for domestic laundering in Europe

The average data of energy use for washing and drying in several European countries are presented in figure 2.

Figure 2: average energy use domestic cleaning in kWh/kg, Netherlands [2] other [3]

There are significant differences in energy use for domestic cleaning between the different countries in Europe. The differences in the laundering energy consumption are mainly due to the higher washing temperatures in Scandinavia and East Europe compared to West Europe and especially South Europe [3]. The differences in the drying energy consumption are mainly due to the different drying processes applied. In South Europe the laundry is mainly drip or line dried outdoors. In West Europe and Scandinavia a dryer is much often used for drying the laundry [3]. In East Europe the use of a dryer is relatively low, the laundry is mainly line dried indoors in heated rooms. The heating of the rooms will lead to extra energy consumption for the drying process due to the extra energy that is required to evaporate the water. The water consumption in Europe is around 11-12.2 l/kg with a load of 3.7 kg. the water consumption is strongly depended on the machine load [3].

 

Innovations and sustainable developments

The following innovations have significantly contributed to the relative low environmental impact of professional textile cleaning:

  • Innovation of machine technology have reduced the consumption and emission of the solvents significantly. This resulted is a strong decease of the environmental impact of professional textile cleaning.
  • Innovation of cleaning processes have resulted in alternative technologies to clean the textiles. Developments of alternative solvents and professional wetcleaning have contributed to a lower environmental impact.
  • Additionally there is a synergy between dry cleaning and laundry due to the ability to reuse the cooling water of the dry cleaning equipment for the laundry process. This reduces the energy consumption and the environmental impact even further.
References
A.W. Wypkema, R. N. van Gijlswijk, Duurzaam reinigen. Vergelijkende analyse van de milieubelasting van textielreiniging bij huishoudens thuis en bij professionele reinigers, TNO-rapport, maart 2010
A.W. Wypkema, R. N. van Gijlswijk, Duurzaam reinigen II. Vergelijkende vervolganalyse van de milieubelasting van textielreiniging bij huishoudens thuis en bij professionele reinigers, TNO-rapport, april 2012
H. Gooijer, R.Stamminger, Sustainability of domestic laundering, 25-11-2015
H. Gooijer, Review Benchmark Sustainability Textile Cleaning 22-12-2015