High-End, New York-Based Cleaner Among First in Nation to Use Biodegradable Plastic Garment Covers

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As part of its ongoing commitment to 'greener' practices, Embassy Cleaners has switched to biodegradable and recyclable polyethylene bags, potentially saving over 20,000 pounds of plastic from landfills each year.

We saw some plastics that were photodegradable, that is by way of sunlight, but they fail to degrade when placed in landfills

High-end dry cleaner Embassy Cleaners, based in Westchester County, New York, is the first dry cleaner in the New York metropolitan area to initiate the packaging of its finished garments using biodegradable plastic. Furthermore, it will be one of the first cleaners to do so nationally.

"This marks the most substantial and meaningful effort in our long-term commitment to environmental responsibility," said Andrew Rivkin, owner of Embassy Cleaners.

The plastic, unlike other prototypes in the market, can break down in environments where microbes are active such as landfills, compost facilities (commercial and home) and natural bodies of water. "We saw some plastics that were photodegradable, that is by way of sunlight, but they fail to degrade when placed in landfills," explained Rivkin. For us, that was the whole point." A single dry cleaner can add over 20,000 pounds of plastic per year to U.S. landfills.

This new technology of plastic, created by the firm Earth Bound, means to combine the functional strengths of plastic with the degradation process of organic material. The method by which this was achieved was a combination of organic & inorganic materials which have been mixed in a very precise formulation and compound into a reactor-grade batch pellet. When this pellet is compounded with any polyethylene or polypropylene resin, the resulting plastic is biodegradable.

The biodegradation of treated plastic occurs through aerobic and anaerobic pathways. Microorganisms consume the plastic, assimilating the material for cellular processes and producing a mixture of metabolic products, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and water.

The additive technology utilized with these polyethylene films enable the microorganisms in the environment to metabolize the molecular structure of the film into a form that is harmless to the environment. When combined with heat and moisture, the swelling agent modifies the film structure and attracts microorganisms that metabolize and neutralize the plastic. Depending on disposal conditions, the completed process can take place in as little as nine months.

Rivkin notes that this is the beginning of a company-wide trend toward greener policies. Aside from using degradable polyethylene as garment bags, Embassy Cleaners initiated a maximum-efficiency energy program, including energy-efficient steam traps, lighting and a voluntary engine-interruption policy among its route drivers. "A great deal of our business involves driving. We try to save as much gas as possible. We're even looking into converting our delivery trucks to running on vegetable oil."

The new polyethylene films are, as an added feature, recyclable, and available in various tints. Said Rivkin: "We chose to tint them the color green."

For additional information on Embassy Cleaners and its environmental policies, contact Michael D'Elicio or visit http://www.embassycleaners.com .


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Michael D'Elicio
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