top of page

88.5% of dry-cleaners are ready to become plastic-free in London.

88.5% of dry-cleaners in 32 boroughs across London accept customers' own garment covers. Get ready to flip the script on traditional dry-cleaning as we know it as we are moving into a plastic-free future!

Change for a sustainable future must be continuous and constant. We are disclosing this research to support URBAG’s mission of removing single-use plastic within the dry-cleaning industry. Awareness and action are only plausible through credible research and evidence.

Behind the scenes of a trailblazing company

URBAG is steadfast in its commitment to eradicate plastic from the dry-cleaning sector, and the organization is pleased to discover that this objective resonates widely within the industry. The affirmation of this collective vision was solidified through a comprehensive survey, engaging companies in discussions about their willingness to embrace reusable garment bags. The survey results underscored a notable shift, revealing that outright resistance is no longer an appropriate characterization when broaching the subject of eliminating plastic covers in the realm of dry cleaning.

Man carrying reusable suit bag for dry-cleaning
URBAG Brando

Embracing the Inevitable: Navigating the Winds of Change

Evidenced by our data, a considerable number of dry cleaners readily embrace the adoption of reusable garment bags from their clientele, aligning with the ongoing industry-wide shift toward sustainability, as explored in our previous features. The pivotal query now centers on the role the public can play in facilitating this transformative process. Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between the public, dry cleaning establishments, and the broader supply chain, our collective awareness and active engagement hold the potential to drive essential changes, particularly in eliminating plastic from the realm of laundered clothing.

Yet, amidst these positive strides, it is crucial to acknowledge certain constraints. Our investigations at URBAG underscore a transitional phase persisting within the dry-cleaning sector, primarily tied to outsourcing practices. Regrettably, the involvement of factories in this transition necessitates the incorporation of automated systems, inevitably resulting in the continued use of plastic in the treatment of laundered garments.

Infographic on dry-cleaning
Survey conducted in 2023 across 32 borough of London

Triggering the change towards plastic-free drycleaning operations in London

Upon initial scrutiny, the automated system at play may appear to impede the transformative agenda within the realm of dry cleaning. However, URBAG sees this as an opportune moment. Perceiving challenges as opportunities is imperative, given that the demands of consumers shape the trajectory of dry cleaners and their operational strategies. Our findings substantiate this perspective.

In interviews conducted, a recurring theme emerged – the unwavering commitment of dry cleaners to fulfill their clients' needs. Many establishments expressed enthusiasm in response to our inquiries, employing affirmative language such as "absolutely" and "no problem at all" when queried about the utilization of reusable garment bags. In essence, the power to effect change lies with us, the consumers, as dry cleaners are unequivocally driven by the mantra of "whatever you want."

Instigating change is paramount because progress becomes inert and unyielding without a benchmark for others to emulate. Thus, dry cleaners require a demand that compels a shift in their attitudes and practices. Beyond customer demand, the industry itself must serve as a source of inspiration. Companies, especially dry cleaners, should be positioned to follow the lead set by their peers.

The normalization of eschewing plastic, rather than treating it as an exception, is essential within their sphere. Without a compelling force for change, industries risk perpetuating the status quo, thereby contributing to environmental harm.

Girl wrapped in plastic sheet
Ending single-use culture

Redefining Convenience through Plastic-Free Laundry Outsourcing

Convenience. The key to winning the future is convenience. Simplifying our lives at every touchpoint will make it easier than ever for consumers to say “yes”, and embrace change naturally.

In a previous article (see The dirty truth of housework: how sharing the load can clean the world up), the trend of outsourcing daily tasks is gaining momentum in contemporary society, and its indispensability is underscored by the increasing presence of women in the workforce. With an estimated 15.7 million women currently employed in the UK, a number expected to rise, the need for outsourcing becomes more pressing.

Despite the economic rationale of allowing two vital sectors to thrive, the act of outsourcing household chores remains a contentious issue within British culture. From an economic standpoint, liberating women from time-consuming tasks like laundry not only enhances their productivity in the workforce but also stimulates another sector of the economy—dry cleaning.

It begs the question: why is the outsourcing of laundry chores considered taboo?

URBAG, while not endorsing dry cleaning, is committed to fostering an inclusive, productive, and responsible society. The company aims to meet the demands and desires of the public.

Just as we delegate house cleaning and automate shopping, outsourcing laundry through URBAG's suit and tote bag combo addresses a unique niche.

Recognizing this gap isn't exclusive to us; dry cleaners, when queried, express willingness to support sustainable laundry outsourcing.

In essence, it's about presenting opportunities and solutions, offering a clear alternative to conventional methods and contributing to environmental responsibility.

2 men walking with reusable garment carrier bag
3-in-1 URBAG: A tote bag (left) that unfolds into a suit bag (right)

Facts Unleashed: The Ironclad Evidence of Data

URBAG surveyed 208 dry cleaners across the 32 boroughs of London and will soon release a nationwide survey.

Our focus was to gather insights on the dry cleaners' perspectives regarding the use of reusable garment bags. The data we present below offers a detailed breakdown and visual representation of how easily plastic-free dry cleaning can be implemented in the UK.

The findings are unequivocal, dispelling concerns about dry cleaners refusing customer-provided garment covers. Remarkably, 88.5% of London's dry cleaners confirmed their acceptance of reusable garment bags brought in by customers.

This high acceptance rate can be attributed to several factors: recognizing the customer as a priority, the tripling of plastic prices since the COVID pandemic, the permanence of plastic packaging taxes, and the essential role of customer loyalty in fostering repeat business.

This innovative research delves into an overlooked and uncontested aspect of the industry: procedural changes. Consequently, sustainability takes center stage in the objectives of our survey.

It's ok to have your shirts profesionally cleaned and ironed. Do it plastic-free! Bring your own suit bag or buy yourself an URBAG.

bottom of page