|June 8, 1998
Secretary, Federal Trade Commission
FROM: Aqua Clean Systems, Inc.
As of June 1, 1998, Aqua Clean Systems has sold in excess of 2,000 systems worldwide, including more than 450 in the United States and Canada. We estimate an additional 500+ systems have been installed by other manufacturers in the United States as there has been a proliferation of new suppliers of equipment and wetcleaning chemicals to the market.
If an instruction for professional wetcleaning is provided no other care instruction need be given. Besides Aqua Clean's presumed pecuniary interest in suggesting no other instruction need be provided, there are other rationales.
First, consistent with EPA's desire to promote alternatives to drycleaning solvents, allowing a manufacturer to label for professional wetcleaning only will encourage those cleaners who have not chosen to incorporate environmentally benign wetcleaning into their business processes to do so. However, they will not be required to do so since such garments could easily be sent to a wetcleaning-equipped plant for processing. Drycleaners commonly send specialized garments out to be processed by a third party if their own plant is not equipped to process it properly. The vast majority of cleaners send out leather and suede garments, and to a large extent wedding dresses, for specialized processing. We reasonably anticipate that garments labeled "professionally wetclean only" would constitute a very small percentage of any cleaner's volume, and they could economically be sent out for processing. However, since a professional wetcleaning system (which complies with the definition in Part D1) can process leathers, suedes, and wedding dresses, the incentive to invest in a wetcleaning system increases substantially.
Second, forcing a manufacturer to provide a second cleaning instruction, which would almost always be "dryclean" or "home launder," would be detrimental to the garment if in fact the appropriate care is to professionally wetclean only. This is contrary to the intent of the reasonable basis requirement of the Rule, and obligates the manufacturer, if they recommend professional wetcleaning, to always recommend alternative care which the cleaner may rely on. If damage occurs because the non-wetclean care instruction was followed, who is liable? Manufacturers should be free to provide the appropriate care instruction whether it is "professionally wetclean only" or a combination of alternative instructions for which they have a reasonable basis.
Third, the rapid decline in prices for professional wetcleaning systems has fueled rapid proliferation of systems and availability to consumers. The Mini Aqua Clean System has a list price of $5,499.00, compared to $36,380 for our largest system. At this price there are very few cleaners who cannot afford to offer professional wetcleaning if they choose to.
Very truly yours,
AQUA CLEAN SYSTEMS, INC.
Neal Milch, President