City Cleans Up Misleading Green Advertising At Santa Monica Dry Cleaners

January 22, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Adam Radinsky, Head, Consumer Protection Unit (310-458-8327)

Six dry cleaning businesses in Santa Monica have agreed to stop making unsubstantiated environmental claims in their advertising, following a joint investigation by the City Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit and the City's Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE).

The City's investigation showed that the cleaners in question did not have evidence to support the eco-friendly claims being made for their dry cleaning operations. The most common claims were  "non-toxic," "safe," "environmentally safe," and "environmentally friendly."

The six businesses are:     

Cleaner By Nature

Courtyard Cleaners

Dry Clean Express

Eco Cleaners

Plaza Cleaners

TJ Cleaners

For many years, most dry cleaners in California used the chemical perchloroethylene ("perc") for dry cleaning. The use of perc, a known carcinogen and listed Toxic Air Contaminant in California, is being phased out for dry cleaning operations in California, leading to the use of new substances.

One of the six businesses uses a product called "Green Earth," made from a chemical known as D5, in its dry cleaning process. The other businesses use a hydrocarbon-based dry cleaning process. Neither of these solvents has been proven non-toxic to humans, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued its revised Green Guides, a set of rules that govern environmental advertising claims nationwide. The FTC prohibits the use of broad and vague claims such as the above. It also requires any factual claims to be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. If the term "non-toxic" is used, it must be supported by such evidence and it must apply to both the environment and individual people. The FTC's new rules can be found here.

None of the six businesses produced evidence to back its green claims.

Although the D5 and hydrocarbon solvents are generally recognized as being safer than perc, the City maintains that calling them “non-toxic” or “environmentally friendly” is misleading and unsubstantiated--and violates the FTC guidelines. 

OSE Director Dean Kubani says, “We’re glad these companies have started using less toxic chemicals, but marketing them as ‘eco-friendly’ just goes too far.”

"More and more consumers want eco-friendly products," said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky. "It's big business these days. That makes it all the more important for consumers to be sure that the advertising claims are true."

Under California law, the City can demand that any business making factual claims in its advertising, substantiate those claims with hard evidence. The Consumer Protection Unit and OSE began investigating local cleaners last year, after learning that many were making environmental claims about their dry cleaning processes, and had doubts about their truthfulness.

Consumers should report any questionable environmental advertising claims to the City Attorney's Office (310-458-8336 or smconsumer.org).

City of Santa Monica © 2017

1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-8411 · TTY (310) 917-6626
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Accessibility Policy | Contact Us