When it comes to dry cleaning, there is a greener way: At Green Apple Cleaners, founded in 2002, liquid carbon dioxide is the cleaning method of choice. The liquid is biodegradable and recyclable, and avoids the use of the more controversial toxic chemical Perchloroethylene.

The company, which is based in New Jersey and serves the New York City area, recently purchased its second Solvair Cleaning System to offer this more environmentally conscious cleaning alternative.

The Solvair technology uses a petroleum derivative, propylene glycol, to clean a garment. The garment is then washed in a pressurized machine with liquid carbon dioxide. According to the American Chemistry Council, propylene glycol is considered readily biodegradable, when combined with water and carbon dioxide, based on the Environmental Protection Agency criteria.

The garment floats in the liquid carbon dioxide until the liquid evaporates as the pressure in the machine is reduced. The Solvair is a self-contained or “closed-loop” system that prevents operator exposure to fluids and waste. And because it is self-contained, there are no emissions into the atmosphere. The majority of the cleaning fluid and carbon dioxide is recovered, recycled and reused, according to Green Apple Cleaners, which is owned by David Kistner, Stavros Michailidis and Christopher Skelley.

The garment comes out dry and free of not only stains and dirt, but also of residual odors.

Co-founder David Kistner says the gentle process helps prolong the life of a garment. There is another good side effect: there’s a sizeable reduction in energy consumption.

“We’ve seen a 52 percent reduction in our utility costs since we started using Solvair,” Kistner said in a recent report on the Corporate Social Responsiblity news wire.

In addition to using a more environmentally friendly cleaning process, Green Apple Cleaners uses bio-diesel trucks and cars to pick up and deliver.

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