The dry cleaning sector provides an important service to local residents and businesses. The sector includes, but isA graphic of a storm drain with the text, "Where does your storm drain go?" not limited to, operations that are engaged in the cleaning of textile and apparel goods, rugs, furs, leathers and other similar articles using tetrachloroethylene, commonly known as PERC.

As part of the normal operation of a dry cleaning operation, liquid and solid wastes are generated. How we manage that waste can have a significant impact on our natural resources, public and private infrastructure, and human and environmental health associated with stormwater, wastewater and septic systems. The following resources are specific to the dry cleaning sector.

Why wastes from dry cleaning operation are a concern

Dry cleaning practices commonly use tetrachloroethylene – also known as perchloroethylene, PCE or, most commonly, PERC. PERC is identified in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as a toxic substance; it is believed to be harmful to public health and the environment.

Tetrachloroethylene usually enters the environment by evaporating into the air during use. It can also enter the air, soil, and water when the dry cleaning solution sludge is being disposed of or when leaks and evaporation occur at storage sites.

Exposure to high levels of tetrachloroethylene can cause eye, nose and skin irritation as well as dizziness, headache, nausea, liver and kidney damage. When introduced into the environment, it contaminates the soil and the water.

Tetrachloroethylene is therefore considered hazardous waste, and it must be dealt with appropriately.

Common regulations and best management practices (BMPs)

Waste generators are required to comply with all federal, provincial, municipal and regional regulations for proper waste disposal.

Under the Provincial Environmental Management Act and the Federal Fisheries Act, a waste generator may be held liable for any contamination or harm created as a result of the deposition or discharge of that waste. Proper disposal and management of wastes significantly reduces risks of environmental contamination and the requirement for remediation.

Proper storage, inventory of products and wastes, spills response plans and employee education on managing dry cleaning wastes are key factors in keeping our receiving waters clean.

Sanitary sewer - regulations and BMPs

All industrial, commercial or institutional facilities that discharge non-domestic wastewater to the sanitary sewer system operated by the CRD must follow the requirements of the Regional Source Control Bylaw - CRD Bylaw No. 2922. The dry cleaning sector, as with many other sectors, has specific requirements under a code of practice within the Sewer Use Bylaw.

Code of Practice for Dry Cleaning Operations prescribes the requirements and conditions for preventing or limiting the discharge of prohibited and restricted wastes into the sanitary sewer system.

The following is a summary of the key requirements under the Bylaw and Code of Practice (Schedule "J"):

  • Use newer, more efficient dry cleaning machines (fourth generation or newer).
  • Treat water that contains PERC before release into the sewer system. Water may be treated on or off site.
  • Minimize spills through the installation of a spill containment system.
  • Manage the collection and disposal of residue and wastewater.
  • Develop an emergency spill and leak plan.
  • Maintain records.
  • More information on the Code of Practice for Dry Cleaning Operations and the Sewer Use Bylaw

Please submit a Waste Discharge Assessment Form if you are unsure whether this code of practice applies to your business.

Although compliance with Sewer Use Bylaw may help you meet other municipal, provincial or federal conditions, other agencies may have additional requirements. Use BizPaL to help you identify additional permits and licenses required to operate your business.

Storm drains and catch basins - regulations and BMPs

Prevent stormwater contamination and protect our aquatic environment by ensuring that dry cleaning waste does not enter the storm drain network (which includes ditches, catch basins and roadways, etc.).

  • Educate staff about the spill prevention and response.
  • When hosing or washing equipment or surfaces outside, do not let the runoff water enter the storm drain.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain any parking lot catch basins.
  • Store waste products under covered areas with appropriate spill containment.

If you operate on the Saanich Peninsula (North Saanich, Central Saanich and Sidney) then you need to know about Bylaw No. 4168 requirements.

Septic system - regulations and BMPs

Wastewater pre-treatment is not specifically required under CRD Bylaw 3479 - Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Bylaw. However, dry cleaning waste should not be discharged to a septic system as this can create a contaminated site.

At minimum, the discharge of dry cleaning waste will impact the treatment process, significantly increase maintenance costs of the septic system and reduce its useful life span.

Trucked liquid waste - BMPs

Liquid waste haulers can be hired to responsibly manage any fluids associated with dry cleaning.

It is important to note that the waste generator retains ownership of the waste even after it has been turned over to a waste hauler. This means the generator can be held responsible for the consequences of a spill or improper disposal of waste.

For that reason it is important to ensure that the hauler you hire can demonstrate that they are:

  • properly licensed,
  • have properly trained staff, and
  • will deal with your waste in a safe, responsible, legal and diligent manner.

Read the Regulations

The Code of Practice for dry cleaning, developed under CRD Bylaw No. 2922 - Sewer Use Bylaw, gives a detailed description of the regulations that dry cleaning businesses need to follow.

Bylaw Schedule

What are prohibited & restricted wastes?

Read the list of prohibited and restricted wastes, including details on maximum allowable concentrations.