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Representatives of textile and apparel manufacturers, the dry cleaning industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), international standards organizations, and others gathered in Washington, DC on September 9-10, 1996, for "Apparel Care and the Environment: Alternative Technologies and Labeling." The conference was co-sponsored by the American Apparel Manufacturers Association, The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, the American Society for Testing and Materials Committee D13 on Textiles, the Fabricare Legislative and Regulatory Education Organization, the Professional Wet Cleaning Partnership, and EPA. Approximately 90 people attended.

"Apparel Care and the Environment" brought together key stakeholders to learn about developments in alternative technologies and care labeling, and to discuss the focus of future efforts.Participants shared a common goal: to reduce the impact of apparel care on the environment. Although most dry cleaners currently use the toxic chemical perchloroethylene to clean garments, alternative technologies such as wet cleaning are emerging and becoming commercially viable. Wet cleaning is a professional garment cleaning process that uses the controlled application of soap and water. One barrier to the expansion of alternative technologies is current garment care labeling practices which specify dry clean only for most garments requiring professional cleaning. If a garment labeled "dry clean only" were damaged by a professional cleaner using a wet cleaning process, the cleaner would be liable for the damage. Revisions to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Care Labeling Rule are being considered to address such issues.

The conference was divided into three sessions, each of which was followed by a discussion period. The first session focused on EPA's initiatives in partnership with industry. European developments on wet cleaning, other alternative technologies, and care labeling were discussed during the second session, which also featured results from a U.S. wet cleaning demonstration project. The third session covered presentations on care labeling by FTC, textile and apparel manufacturers, the fabricare industry, a retailer, and a consumer representative. The conference concluded with a facilitated discussion and development of an action plan. These proceeding contain transcribed presentations, copies of the papers presented during the conference, and a summary of the discussion sessions.

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