Spokane’s clean air agency has told Spokane’s Beacon Cleaners to take a hike. And that’s a good thing.
The laundry is the first dry cleaner in Spokane to earn “no-longer-regulated” status from the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.
In recent years, Beacon has installed cleaning equipment that produces no vented emissions and uses nontoxic chemicals instead of perchloroethylene or "perc," a closely regulated agent regarded as a carcinogen.
Because perc is still used in many dry-cleaning businesses, the clean air agency requires annual inspections to help them find ways to reduce emissions and control discharges.
Since 2010, the list of regulated Spokane dry cleaners has dropped from 15 to seven.
Of the eight no longer on the list, Beacon Cleaners is the only one that’s still in business; the other seven closed or were absorbed by other dry cleaners, said April Westby, an air quality engineer at the clean air agency.
Beacon’s ongoing efforts also earned it the 2013 Small Business Environmental Stewardship Award, given to one company that displays a commitment to environmentally friendly practices.
That award will be presented to Hi Bum Kim, Beacon’s owner, at the June 6 clean air agency board meeting.
In 2012 it won a local award for its environmental efforts.
In the late 1990s, Spokane County had more than 40 dry cleaners. By 2010, the number fell to 15, primarily due to consumer shopping trends and a weak economy.
Economists say Americans are wearing fewer garments that require dry cleaning and also postpone dry cleaning their clothes in a down economy.