Industry News Story

SOCMA Member Equinox Offers Solution to Dry Cleaning Chemical

The story below is just one of the many examples that demonstrate the innovation shown by specialty chemical manufacturers. This story appeared on the WALB Channel 9 website in Albany, GA.

By Jennifer Emert
WALB Channel 9

ALBANY, GA - Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The Federal Reserve Chairman said just last week their success is vital to economic recovery and U. S. global competitiveness.

Albany's Equinox Chemical is proof of that. They spent a year and a half perfecting a product they're now marketing around the world. It's made in Albany and could help the business expand and add more local jobs.

You've likely done it, dropped your soiled clothes at the dry cleaners and picked them up clean and pressed, but what happens in between. There's nothing dry about dry cleaning.

"It uses solvents instead of water," said Lionel Sommet of Lee Pride Cleaners

In the U.S. nearly 80% of cleaners use Perchloroethylene, or Perc, including Lee Pride Cleaners, and while it works better than most, states like California have banned the chemical starting in 2013.

"It's more efficient than other alternatives that take 60 to 80 minutes to finish," said Sommet.

The 1990 federal Clean Air Act requires dry cleaners to limit their use of the chemical. There are alternatives, and Equinox Chemical here in Albany is banking their solution, Rynex, will mean big business for the growing company that now makes a thousand different chemical products.

"We spent the first year and a half just perfecting the manufacturing, and making sure that it was done properly and to the highest quality," Said the Chief Operating Officer of Rynex Technologies Yalda Harris.

Phd chemists manufacture Rynex in a lab set up similar to this.

"You have a reaction and it goes through the purification process and you get your end product," said Harris. "It's a clear liquid solvent."

Enough is made to fill a 10,000 gallon tank and it's drummed off as needed and shipped worldwide.

"It is the only alternative solvent that is classified as a class 3-B solvent meaning the flash point is over 200 degrees Fahrenheit and that's huge," said Harris.

Especially in New York where they're marketing to cleaners who can't get insurance or are forced to put in expensive sprinkler systems because of other solvents' flash points.

Equinox has also partnered with the largest privately owned laundry and cleaning manufacturer in Europe, helping to tout its advantages.

"It's not only environmentally friendly and biodegradable, non hazardous, but it's also very very efficient, so it's cleaning power is equivalent if not better than PERC in some cases," said Harris.

This alternative requires cleaners to adapt their machines, but it's a choice more and more cleaners are making. Lionel Sommet, has seen the price of Perc climb since he opened.

"The cost is up from when I started 10 years ago probably 350%, for the cost of the chemical."

And when this 12-year-old machine, cleans it's final load, Sommet will likely look at an alternative to replace it. "Yeah we will probably be going to something else."

Equinox has been talking with local cleaners trying to encourage them to consider Rynex as they make the switch hoping to continue their small business to boom.

Equinox expects to announce expansion plans later this year or the first of next year. In the last year they've made five million dollars in improvements to the infrastructure at its Albany facility.


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