Two and a half years ago on these pages, we wrote that many experts were commenting on the accelerating shift towards eco-friendliness in the laundry care sector. The view was that 2021 was the year when advanced equipment would collide with the need for greener credentials.
“The market is demanding greater environmental responsibility”, we wrote, “and the benefits for cleaners are a boost in custom and lower energy bills. As ever the market dictates the direction and the pace.”
The trajectory is green
According to new data on a market forecast website, the laundry care sector in the UK is expected to grow annually by 3.06% from 2023 to 2028 and according to Statista.com, the UK laundry care market is seeing a rise in demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products. It seems those experts were right and there’s no holding the sector back.
This tallies also with two important pieces of news in 2023. In March this year, the Textiles Service Association (TSA) set up a lobbying group to help make its voice heard in the UK’s corridors of power. By August, the TSA had managed to meet with a cross-party group of MPs and commercial laundry sector members, explaining how sustainability is part of its agenda and how laundries can play an integral role in health and social care through reusable PPE and workwear, for example. The TSA’s CEO David Stevens said:
“A disposable gown can be used once, reusable gowns can be used 70 or more times, which makes them both economically and environmentally the best choice. At end of life, disposable gowns have to be disposed of, whereas reusable ones can be recycled.”
There has also been agreement on discussing, through the Energy Efficiency Task Force (EETF), how government can help laundries reduce energy demand. In that meeting, the task force indicated it wants to use the industry as a case study for its net zero carbon and energy saving objectives of reducing UK energy demand from 2021 levels by 15 per cent by 2030. These steps forward, particularly after the difficult Covid-19 days of a couple of years ago, will hopefully herald good news for our sector.
Wetcleaning is the present and the future
Meanwhile, an article in Laundry & Cleaning Today at the end of September reported on the continuing growth of wetcleaning and, although it’s been on the rise for three decades, is now being driven by environmental concerns. Traditional drycleaners, it seems, are now complementing their existing operations with wetcleaning services while it’s the favoured offering of startups. As the article said:
“It’s no wonder when you look at the benefits: More environmentally friendly; easier on the energy and water bills; and a quicker, simpler process than the drycleaning alternative. Garment manufacturers are increasingly designing products suitable for wetcleaning and customer concerns about chemical solvents all add to the continuing growth of wetcleaning.”
The LA Times in 1996 published a story on wetcleaning that predicted the future:
“Environmentalists say wet cleaning has the potential to transform the dry-cleaning industry.”
That’s 27 years ago and with its now mainstream adoption by the public and world leading manufacturers like Miele, that potential is being realised.
Trend setting Miele
We mention Miele, because in 1991 – five years before that LA Times article – the German geniuses collaborated with chemical company Kreussler – and invented the process of professional wetcleaning. They developed a water-based solvent system that replaced typical dry cleaning methods.
Today, the third generation of Miele WetCare machines are working with the latest, optimised WetCare system. Miele WetCare provides an alternative to conventional dry cleaning that uses solvent. Thanks to their patented Honeycomb drum, fabrics last even longer with improved cleaning results and lower water and energy consumption. Its non-hazardous detergents and can be treated like any other laundry detergents in grey water reprocessing. With the WetCare system fabrics like angora, cashmere, silk, wool, acrylic, polyester and even leather can be safely processed.
Miele has an impressive range of appliances to choose from including the Little Giants – perfect machines with innovative features, including Wifi technology for places which need quick turn arounds on laundry, and which lack the space for a big commercial appliance. WetCare is an integral part of the Performance Plus washer and dryers, offering five specific programmes: sensitive, silks, intensive, disinfection and hygiene. It’s a system perfect for the in-house wash of care and nursing homes; hotels and theatre companies. And it’s still perfect for cruise ships, the sector for which it was originally aimed.
Miele has always had an eye on the future to ensure clean laundry and protect our planet at the same time. If we want to know new trends in the laundry care sector, then it’s always worth looking to see what Miele are concentrating on. And that’s why we love working with them.