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Environment industries archive


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Quality Dry Cleaners
Cleaner Production - Recovery and Reuse of Solvent Perchlorethylene

The purchase of solvent extraction equipment has enabled South Australian based Quality Dry Cleaners to recover and reuse the solvent perchlorethylene, which previously formed part of the waste stream. Recovery of the solvent alone has resulted in savings of $20,000 per annum. The company expects a payback period of about 2 years, from an investment of just over $32,000.


Quality Dry Cleaners is one of Australia’s largest industrial dry cleaners and launderers with 42 employees. 

The Process

Waste from the dry cleaning process at Quality Dry Cleaners contains varying levels of contamination depending on the items being laundered or dry cleaned. The company is the largest recycler of heavily soiled gloves in Australia. The gloves could be coated with animal blood and fat, printers ink or industrial grease. Other items processed include rental mats, overalls and tanned sheepskins.

Grease and solids are trapped separately in the laundering process before wastewater is discharged to the sewer. Drying processes associated with dry cleaning and laundry emit water vapour and lint, the latter being trapped in a filter system.

The industrial dry cleaning process using conventional stills creates liquid waste residues containing perchlorethylene solvent (15-17 percent), oils, grease and dirt (83-85 percent).

Prior to the cleaner production initiative, approximately 1,240 litres of liquid waste was produced each week, comprising: 1040 litres of waste oil, which was carted away by licensed removalists and burnt in brick kilns; and 200 litres of solvent, which was lost to waste disposal.

Cleaner Production Initiative

In 1994, Quality Dry Cleaners became the first dry cleaning plant in Australia to install a Donini DO 200 Perchlorethylene Extraction Unit. The unit was the first of its kind in the dry cleaning industry.

Difference in perchlorethylene recovery between the traditional and new approaches

Differences between the new and traditional approaches

The Donini unit reduces the concentration of perchlorethylene in the liquid waste through distillation, allowing the perchlorethylene to be recovered and reused in the cleaning process.

The unit takes 3-4 hours to treat 250 litres of liquid waste containing 15 percent solvent and processes approximately 1,240 litres per week.

Advantages of the Process

Installation of the unit allowed waste oil to be reduced from 1,240 litres per week to 1000 litres (a reduction of 20 percent). The solvent component of the waste has been reduced from 15-17 percent to 1 percent.

The total cost of the initiative, including the purchase of the Donini extraction unit, was $32,137. Purchase of the unit was made possible through an interest free loan of $16,068 from the South Australian Environment Protection Agency under its Cleaner Industries Demonstration Scheme.

The new system has enabled processing to continue for 2 hours longer each day and has lifted productivity.

Recovered solvent, which was previously wasted, saves the company around $20,000 per annum. The cost of removal of waste oil residue is 15 cents per litre. The more toxic still scrapings are removed by a licensed operator at a cost of 54 cents per litre. Furthermore, the extra processing time has saved 2 hours of overtime per day, equivalent to an annual saving of $7,800.

Total cost $32,137
Annual saving $27,800
Expected payback 2 years

Cleaner Production Incentive

Quality Dry Cleaners were keen to put in place a waste minimisation strategy and saw the investment in the Donini unit as a way of effectively recovering resources.


No barriers were encountered.

Further Developments

The previously used industrial dry cleaning machines have been replaced with newer models that recover a greater proportion of the perchlorethylene in their own stills. This has reduced the percentage of perchlorethylene able to be recovered by the extraction unit. Despite this, the extraction unit is still considered beneficial to the company.

Other cleaner production initiatives adopted by Quality Dry Cleaners include efforts to minimise the packaging wastes generated from their business. Since 1995, overalls have been returned to clients, strapped together in bundles of ten, instead of being wrapped in plastic, with the added bonus that the overalls are also easier to handle. Another initiative that has been in practice since the business began is the supply of hanger racks to clients for the recovery of coat hangers. The racks enables the neat storage of a couple of hundred hangers by the client. When full, the hanger rack is collected and an empty rack left in its place. 

The deregulation of the electricity supply in South Australia in July 2001 will result in 20-50% increases in power bills for businesses. This is a strong incentive to look for cleaner production opportunities to minimise energy consumption.


Fred Meyer
Quality Dry Cleaners
277 Hanson Road
Wingfield SA 5013
Ph: (08) 8347 3299
Fax: (08) 8347 0709

Casestudy implementation: 1994
Further initiatives: 1995
Casestudy initially prepared in June 1998 by the South Australian Environment Protection Agency in association with the Environment Management Industry Association of Australia (EMIAA)


Environment Protection Agency SA

Last modified: June 2001