In this month’s Spotlight on Benelux, Kathleen Armstrong reports that environmentally friendly methods are being seen as the way ahead in the region as economies begin to recover. Legislation is undoubtedly an influence here but “green” cleaning is also being used in marketing strategies to differentiate businesses from the competition.

In the article, the Belgian trade association FBT singled out the potential of K4, the solvent system developed by Kreussler and backed by the machines from the FMB group. This was officially launched at Expo Detergo in October last year but FBT reports that several drycleaners have already bought machines.

The system is claimed to have several advantages. It has a high solvency and is effective both on oils and fats and on water-soluble soils. At same time, it is described as a non-toxic, biodegradable solvent that is non-hazardous according to current European regulations.

A reformulated Rynex was also on show in Milan and is claimed to be an effective replacement for perc, hydrocarbons and cyclosiloxanes.

These are not only the alternatives to traditional methods that are being developed. Visitors to this year’s Clean Show can expect further news from Xeros, the UK-based company, that is developing a virtually waterless “washing” system.

The system is still being tested but could become viable for the market at the end of this year/beginning 2012. The Xeros system will be marketed in the USA through the GreenEarth Cleaning network and is seen as a complementary method for those”drycleaners” that want to offer a laundering service.

A further development in laundering has been researched in India (see page 6). Scientists at Nitra, (the Northern India Textile Research Organisation) have been working on the use of ultrasonics in textile cleaning and have concluded that the combination of an ultrasonic device with a conventional washing machine could remove heavy soiling (such as that found on shirt collars and cuffs) effectively while reducing use of chemicals and rinse water and being gentle on the fabric.

The system is not yet commercially available but Nitra hope that manufacturers may be willing to take it to the next stage of development.

These alternatives are important not just in themselves but also because they widen the available choices. No industry can afford to stay still. Even those methods regarded as established are constantly evolving to retain their value.

The textile care industry faces challenges both from a changing climate where natural resources are becoming less readily available and more costly and from ever more stringent legislation. Sustainability needs to be assured.

On-going development to improve traditional methods and research into new methods will help to do this and is essential.

Janet Taylor –