Dry cleaners

Dry cleaners

Dry cleaning is the term given to the cleaning of clothes and other textiles using a solvent – perchloroethylene (perc), siloxane or hydrocarbon solvents (HCS) – instead of water. The process is carried out in a purpose built dry cleaning machine which both cleans and dries the clothes/textiles:

Regulation of dry cleaners

We are not currently able to receive, verify or determine applications for PPC Part A. 

Dry cleaning is a solvent emission activity listed in Schedule 2, Part 1 of the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012, which means that if you carry out such a process you must hold a SEPA issued permit to legally operate. This permit contains dry cleaner standard rules which must be complied with at all times.

Emission limit and annual report

We are not currently able to receive, verify or determine applications for PPC Part A. 

There is a requirement within the permit for you to comply with an annual emission limit of 20g of solvent used per kg of clothes/textiles cleaned, and to forward a report to us each year with this figure. In order for you to calculate this, you must keep a weekly record of the:

  • weight of clothes /fabric cleaned;
  • volume of solvent added to the machine(s);
  • volume of solvent contaminated residues pumped or raked out of the still(s).

In addition, you should note the volume of solvent in the machine(s) at both the beginning and end of the year.

This data can then be used at the end of the year to complete your annual report.

We have produced weekly and annual data sheets which you may find helpful in recording your figures. Your annual report must be submitted to wasteandindustry@sepa.org.uk by 31 January, covering the previous calendar year.

Electronic Submission of Annual Solvent Emission Returns in Scotland

From January 2024, permit holders can use the Calculating your annual solvent emission online form to submit their return.

This avoids the need for the permit holder to calculate the solvent emissions manually using a spreadsheet and formula, which is then submitted to SEPA in a paper format via the post or as an attachment via email.

The online form is used to calculate the annual solvent emission and identify if it complies with the annual emission limit of solvent from the installation. This should not exceed 20 grams of solvent per kilogram of products cleaned and dried per year based on the records for the year.

After receiving your return, SEPA will contact the permit holder if there are any issues with the return.

We still accept paper returns by post. Please send these to:

SEPA
Angus Smith Building
6 Parklands Avenue
Eurocentral
Holytown
North Lanarkshire
ML1 4WQ

It is a permit requirement to make a valid return by 31 January to cover the period of 1 January t December of the previous year. Given the introduction of the new form SEPA will accept returns up to and including 28 February 2024. If you have already submitted your return then you do not have to take any further action.

Should you require any further information please email David Sandford in SEPA’s Waste & Industry Team.

Further guidance

PG Note 6/46 (11) – Statutory guidance for dry cleaning must be read by all dry cleaning operators. It provides the control techniques that should be used to legally operate your activity and that will allow you to hold a permit. These techniques are considered by us to be the best way to prevent and/or reduce emissions from dry cleaning installations.

Supplementary guidance

Questions and answers

We are not currently able to receive, verify or determine applications for PPC Part A. 

Q. I’m an existing dry cleaners, do I need a permit to operate?
A. If you already carry out a dry cleaning operation you should have a permit issued by SEPA and no further action is required. If you do not have such a permit you need to apply for one.

Q. I’m taking over an operational dry cleaners, what do I need to do?
A. You will need to transfer the permit, for which there is no fee. Ideally this will be a joint application by yourself and the current operator; however, we can transfer the permit, with your agreement, should we consider this appropriate. If it is not transferred, and the seller surrenders the permit, you will have to apply for a new one and pay the appropriate application fee.

Q. I’m relocating the dry cleaning business, what do I need to do?
A. The permit is site specific therefore you will need to apply for a permit for your new site. You also need to notify us of your intention to surrender the permit for your existing site or you will continue to be charged a subsistence fee.

Q. I am changing my dry cleaning machine(s), does this affect my permit?
A. There is no need for your permit to be changed. However, there is a requirement on you to inform us of any proposed change in operation at least 14 days in advance of the change. This will include any change of dry cleaning machine. We have produced a simple notification form which you can use to notify us of such a change.

Q. I’m going to operate a new dry cleaners, what do I need from SEPA?
A. If you plan to operate a new dry cleaners, the PPC Regulations (Scotland) 2012 require you to apply for a new permit to operate this activity. You have to pay for the application and thereafter an annual subsistence fee.

Q. How do I apply?
A. You can find all the relevant forms on our application forms page. If you wish to discuss your application contact us by emailing ppcpermitting@sepa.org.uk

Q. What is a standard rule and is it a legislative requirement?
A. We are allowed to use standard rules to regulate certain activities instead of issuing site specific permits. They are being progressively introduced for those activities where the process is fairly consistent from site to site and the risk to the environment is relatively low.

The standard rules are a list of requirements specific to an activity and we produce them in conjunction with the relevant industry. There is no right of appeal against the standard rules which is why we are required to consult when developing or changing them.

In addition, the standard rules are updated from time to time through consultation with the trade body and the updated standard rules are published on the website. A standard rules permit will contain one condition requiring you to comply with the standard rules instead of a number of conditions which may vary from site to site.

Q. How do I comply?
A. You must read the standard rules that apply to your dry cleaning activity and ensure you implement the requirements. You should also read your permit and understand any other condition. For fuller details you should refer to the appropriate process guidance note.

Q. What are the penalties for not meeting standard rules?
A. Failure to comply with your permit is a criminal offence and carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and a £40,000 fine on summary conviction, and a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.

Contact us

If you have any questions, require any further information or advice on any aspect of dry cleaning regulation, or would like to submit a pre-application proposal and supporting information, please email ppcpermitting@sepa.org.uk.

Email application forms along with supporting information to registry@sepa.org.uk