What is the Dry Cleaning Code of Practice?

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The Dry Cleaning Code of Practice is a regulation for managing waste materials generated by dry cleaning operations. Dry cleaning businesses in the Region must follow the code. Examples of dry cleaning waste include:

  • Tetrachloroethylene (PERC)
  • Petroleum solvents

Why are dry cleaning wastes a concern in our environment?

Effluent from almost all dry cleaning operations are toxic and may act as carcinogens. Chemicals used in cleaning are a health risk to sewer workers and dry cleaning employee; some of these chemicals, such as petroleum products, are flammable.

Tetrachloroethylene, also known as PERC, is a solvent used regularly in dry cleaning. Unfortunately, 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. PERC usually enters the environment by evaporating into the air during use. It can also enter the air, soil and water when sewage 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 – even unconsciousness and death. 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.

What can dry cleaning businesses do?

The use of PERC is allowed in Canada but regulated by all levels of government. Dry cleaning businesses are responsible for understanding and adhering to every regulation set out by each level of government.

By following the dry cleaning regulations you will protect our environment, reduce your own liability and provide a greener, improved business image in your community. Regulations require dry cleaners that use PERC to:

  • Use newer, more efficient 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

Metals and other contaminants are now much less common in the waters off our region, thanks in large part to source control efforts. Continued effort will ensure our ocean is cleaner and safer for everyone.

Create an Environmentally Sustainable Business

Other wastes from dry cleaning can also be a concern. Follow best management practices also outlined in the code for dry cleaning businesses.

  • Choose products with less packaging and those made from recycled materials
  • Recycle as much of your non-hazardous waste as possible, including clothes hangers, paper, cans, newspaper, glass and plastic containers
  • Consider alternatives to PERC
  • Develop an emergency spill and leak plan
  • Keep machines and chemical storage areas clean and well-maintained

By reducing waste overall and disposing of waste in the proper manner, you can help protect our region's environment.

Read the Regulations

The Code of Practice for dry cleaning, developed under the 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.