Government of Canada supports project to improve dry-cleaning chemical handling

News Release

Seneca College receives $131,519 from federal Environmental Damages Fund

February 28, 2017 – Toronto, Ontario – Environment and Climate Change Canada

Canadians place a high value on the environment and on healthy communities. That is why our government works with community groups, academia, industry, provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous Peoples on initiatives that safeguard the environment and the health of Canadians.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Catherine McKenna, announced $131,519 in funding to support Seneca College in carrying out a national project that will help dry-cleaning operators across the country understand their role in preventing pollution. Better chemical handling practices will help reduce the amount of toxic chemicals that are released into the environment.

This funding comes from the Environmental Damages Fund, a Government of Canada program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Fund follows the polluter-pays principle and ensures that court-awarded penalties are used for projects with positive environmental impacts, in the manner intended by the court. The funding for this project comes from nine separate court penalties levied against dry cleaners convicted for environmental infractions across the country.

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“The Government of Canada is pleased to invest in projects that contribute to our efforts to manage substances that threaten human health or Canada’s environment. By educating dry cleaners about how to properly manage the chemicals they use, this project will help reduce the amount of chemicals that are inadvertently released into the environment.”

– Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

“Seneca has had a longstanding history of teaching best environmental practices in dry cleaning in the province of Ontario. The Government of Canada’s support, along with that of the dry-cleaning industry in Canada, provides us with the opportunity to assess the level of environmental awareness in the industry in jurisdictions throughout Canada and then provide online learning tools to enhance best environmental practices.”

– Bill Humber, Director of the Office of Eco-Seneca initiatives, Seneca College

Quick Facts

  • The project involves developing an education program for dry-cleaning operators, including a website, a social media campaign, and three videos to promote pollution prevention in the dry-cleaning industry. After the program is implemented, operators will be surveyed to determine whether behaviours have changed. The project is expected to be complete in January 2018.
  • Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene and commonly called PERC, can enter the environment via air emissions during dry cleaning and other industrial processes or make its way into groundwater from spills or improper waste disposal. Once released, it can damage plants and contaminate groundwater.
  • The Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 reduce PERC releases into the environment from dry-cleaning facilities by requiring operators use more efficient dry‑cleaning machines, minimize spills, and manage the collection and disposal of residue and wastewater that contain perchloroethylene.

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