Two pieces of European legislation will affect the drycleaning industry in the next few years and may influence buying decisions says Mike Palin, technical director of the Textile Services Association (TSA).

Upon being made a part of European law, the Volatile Organic Compounds Directive (VOC) will restrict permitted emissions of solvents and the way they are used. The directive, says Mr Palin, will restrict use to one litre of solvent for a minimum weight of 80 kg of textiles processed.

The VOC directive has had its second reading in the European Parliament and is expected to be adopted by the New Year. After it has been adopted, European Union member states will be allowed a further two years for implementation.

Mr Palin believes that businesses may feel under pressure to invest now in order to meet the requirements, but this is not necessarily the case. Equipment bought after the implementation date will have to meet the directive’s requirements immediately.

However, where the directive mentions existing installations, these are defined as the total cleaning capacity in place when the directive is implemented, rather than when it is adopted. Currently, businesses will have until 2007 to meet the directive’s terms.

Speaking on behalf of the TSA, Mr Palin says that businesses that need to re-equip within the next two years must remember that they have a choice.

If they avoid the cost of purchasing directive-compliant equipment now, he says, they will need to re-invest again to meet the 2007 deadline. If they find they need to re-equip after the implementation date, they will need to make the whole installation compliant immediately.

The directive mentions both perc and hydrocarbon, but Mr Palin says that the requirements for hydrocarbon are likely to be less stringent and in practice, hydrocarbon equipment, being a newer technology will already meet the directive’s requirements.

The fact that there is virtually no second-hard market in hydrocarbon machines means that businesses moving to hydrocarbon will have to purchase new.

The other regulation change that businesses need to be aware of concerns an EU proposal to place further constraints on ODS, Ozone Depleting Substances.

At present substances such as CFC113, although banned in production can still be used while stocks last by countries not signed up to the Montreal Agreement.

In an attempt to close a loophole, the proposal is to stop such substances from being placed on the market or from being used.

However, the majority of TSA members who still use CFC113 have reorganised their businesses so they are not dependent on it.