ACE Cleaners Goes Green
ACE Cleaners in North Andover Plaza has recently converted to a new environmentally safe dry cleaning process with the help of a grant from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.
ACE Cleaners recently converted its dry cleaning process from using perchloroethylene (perc) to environmentally-friendly technologies with the help of a $17,000 grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell, according to TURI Community Program Manager Joy Onasch.
Onasch said the grant partially funded the purchase and installation of professional “wet” dry-cleaning equipment that has been proven to be an effective and safer replacement to perc, a probable human carcinogen. The new technologies allow for “dry-clean-only” clothes to be washed with water and detergents in computer-controlled machines and then finished with tensioning and pressing equipment.
TURI has awarded 40 Massachusetts companies more than $500,000 in state funded grants since 1996 to discover new opportunities to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and to demonstrate technologies to peers.
"The grants that have been given to three dry cleaners are for a facility to convert to dedicated professional wet cleaning, meaning they can use no other technology in their shop," Onasch explained. “ACE Cleaners took the lead and invested in new, safer equipment that is healthier for workers, the environment and customers. We are making slow and steady progress across the state moving dry cleaners away from using perc which is linked to cancer.”
ACE Cleaners, a family-owned business has leased space in the North Andover Plaza for the past five years. The location had housed previous dry cleaning businesses since 1970.
Although they only been using the new equipment for a few months, owners Yong and Angela Kim have noticed a difference. They said the clothes are clean, fresh and not emitting any odors. The Kims have also realized the health benefits of using a water-based solution.
“Before this change, when I would open the door to work there was a strong smell and because I have asthma, I would cough and choke,” said Yong Kim. “Now when I get to work, everything smells clean and fresh. Not only does the technology do a great job of cleaning the clothes, it is better for the health of my customers and workers.”
The mandate for change was realized when North Andover Ventures Limited Partnership, Plaza landlord hired Morgan Environment of Manchester, MA to remove chemicals from the soil due to contamination. With the assistance of Environmental engineer Patricia Kozak, the Kims were able to find out about both the grant and the newer equipment.
“Even though the contamination of the soil by other dry cleaners over the years was the driver for ACE Cleaners to find a safer alternative to perc, the company could have chosen to move to another site and continue using perc, but instead Mr. and Mrs. Kim did the right thing by investing in a cleaner technology,” Onasch explained.
Part of the requirement of the TURI grant is for ACE Cleaners to demonstrate to other dry cleaners how the technology works to encourage them to no longer use perc. Four demonstrations have been scheduled for this spring, and invitations will be mailed out to dry cleaners across the state, Onasch said.
“Sometimes environmental problems can have a silver lining especially if grants are available to ease the financial burden which is what happened in this case,” she said.