On the 28th of May, in the Central Entrepreneurs House downtown Moscow the Russian Association for Drycleaners and Launderers hosted the CINET Global Info Square Meeting conference with a full program on Business opportunities and sustainable processing in the professional textile care industry. With an attendance of approximately 75 (mainly Russian) cleaners this first international conference was a great success. A preview was taken into the future of the industry five to ten years from now. Within this context the new Russian ‘Safe Dry-Cleaning’ initiative was introduced and questions on how to create successes along the supply chain, how to implement best practices without large investments, and what is the need for standards in Russia was discussed.
Last year, the Russian Drycleaners and Launderers Association became a member of CINET and so decided to commit to more cooperation on an international level. Regulations concerning the professional textile care industry are not as strict as in Europe but are expected to become an important issue in Russia soon. By sharing knowledge and experiences the Russian industry is proactively trying to position itself in a stronger position from a safety and environmental perspective while keeping focus on a profitable industry. CINET president, Mr. Dirk Vanmeirhaeghe complemented the board of the Russian Association on this attitude and achievement by presenting CINET pins during the conference. This underlined the Russian involvement in CINET international projects. On top of that the host and president of the Russian Association for Drycleaners and Launderers, Leonid Bertsev, was appointed Liaison Officer for CINET in Russia.
The past years we have seen a noticeable trend worldwide in which sustainability and safety in organizations (CSR) have gained more and more awareness. This applies to all sectors of industry, however is developed further in one country to another. What initially might have looked like a hype has now become a basic requirement. Societies simply do not accept safety risks anymore, neither for human beings nor for obvious environmental impact. Organizations that fail to meet their responsibilities in this respect can cause serious negative media coverage, as well as a response from governments.
In the US and France, governments have demonstrated how the attitude has changed by their decisions to phase out the use of PER in 2023. In this line CINET took the initiative for Best Practice designed as an international standard applicable worldwide. Necessary working procedures, in combination with updated machine technology, applied chemicals and solvents, ensure best practices in safe & sustainable processing in textile cleaning which is 2-3 times more sustainable than domestic cleaning. The E-DryClean and E-WetClean E-learning educational programs contribute to an easy application in each PTC company.
During the conference the fit between these best practices and the current situation in Russia became most obvious. Mr. Bertsev reported the Russian dry cleaning and laundry market on 3000 shops (2400 offer dry cleaning services) spread out over 1200 companies. Most companies are located in Moscow (170) and St. Petersburg (126). The total industrial laundry market contains about 60 factories of which 15 are located in Moscow. The main difference compared to Europe is that in Russia most companies have large plants that offer dry cleaning as well as laundry services. However there is a trend towards more (convenient) collection points for dry cleaning/consumer services and an expanding market for industrial laundries with fast growing productivity. For dry cleaning the main solvent is PERC although also a growing interest in the alternative solvents can be noticed as cleaners are starting to experiment with GreenEarth and Solvon K4.
Best practices in Russia
The current situation provides all the premises needed for the implementation of best practices. The association, the suppliers and most important, a fair share of the cleaners are ready for improved working methods and acknowledge that this is an investment for a prosperous future. These mindsets have been turned into action as well with the Safe Drycleaning initiative, aimed at safety in the workplace and the Russian translation of the online educational program E-DryClean. The first, Safe Drycleaning, is supported by the Russian university, CINET, Safechem and the main partner Universal. The cleaners can all participate on a voluntary basis but should they agree a set of requirements has to be met. In the starting phase in the pilot six drycleaners signed up and now a national PR campaign will be executed. The program will provide better customer service and satisfaction, guarantee for regulations, a sign of quality and an instrument to unite shops around a foundation. Secondly the E-DryClean program ensures an international standard on safe and sustainable processing for dry cleaners worldwide. The Russian Association will host E-DryClean for Russia and herewith provide all members the opportunity to implement the best practices for which they merely will need a computer with access to the internet.
Not only the textile care industry in Russia is ready for these safe and sustainable working methods. During the conference the head of the governmental institute TC346 Rosstandart, Ms. Tatjana I. Zvorykina provided an overview on the current situation in Russia on standards and regulation and furthermore a complete blueprint on their perspective for standards and the professional textile care industry in Russia was presented. Although regulations and auditing are not that severe in Russia when you compare this with Europe the message was clear: the textile care industry is being watched and nolens volens the help of the cleaners, suppliers and association is of the utmost importance.
All’s well that ends well
Altogether this short CINET journey once again was most interesting with five company visits, meeting up with old friends and strengthen relationships, getting acquainted with colleagues from Russia, promoting the interests of the industry and exchanging knowledge and experiences to the benefit of both parties. It is clear that the Russian industry has been keeping a keen eye on the horizon and that all stakeholders involved are more or less working the same direction. The governmental vision matched perfectly with messages from the other industry experts and so the time of action has come. CINET will be in close contact with the Russian colleagues and support whenever possible.