Leonard Laundry

New York City Council Passes the Clean Act

New York, NY– The New York City Council passed the Clean Act, legislation that will require industrial laundry plants to meet cleanliness standards when processing linens for restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and other businesses use.

The bill passed unanimously, 43-0.

In February, 2015, the Council introduced the Clean Act to address the alleged “public health threat” posed by the lack of such regulation, considering that millions of New York City residents and visitors touch napkins, tablecloths, bed sheets, and other washed fabrics at businesses and other establishments throughout the city.

Under the terms of the Clean Act industrial laundries must now be licensed and regulated by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), similar to how retail laundromats and retail dry cleaners are treated.

“I was shocked to learn there are currently no legal requirements to ensure industrial laundries and their delivery trucks meet standards of hygienic cleanliness when operating here,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), lead sponsor of the Clean Act. “Bringing real oversight and regulation to industrial laundries will protect consumers, business owners, residents, and visitors across every neighborhood in every borough.”

Laundry plants based in the city and those outside the city limits that deliver into the city must comply with the new law. The New York initiative is a landmark effort by a U.S. jurisdiction.  This legislation creates a level playing field for all industrial laundry operators, requiring them to meet the same cleanliness standards.

“The Clean Act is common-sense legislation that would establish clear standards of cleanliness for all industrial laundries and delivery trucks handling linens at hotels, hospitals, restaurants, other businesses in the city,” Wilfredo Larancuent, Manager of the Laundry, Distribution & Food Service Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU, said.

TRSA representatives led by David Potack, senior VP, Unitex Textile Rental Services, and vice chairman of TRSA, worked with the staff of Councilman Ritchie Torres and the NYC Committee on Consumer Affairs to make sure industrial laundries’ voices were heard.

“Our partnerships with federal, state and local governments are strong because our members are recognized for documented improvements in sustainability, workplace safety, hygiene and other performance measures,” Potack said.

Of chief concern in the original version were the requirements that the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) establish standards of cleanliness for textiles. The final bill included minimum standards of cleanliness based on TRSA’s Hygienically Clean certification and the formation of an advisory task force to the council and mayor to review these standards.

The task force will consider strategies for standard enforcement, including reviewing procedures for maintaining functional separation. It will consist of representatives of launderers, industry employees, DCA and the city health department.  Recommendations are due on or before June 2019 with the task force reconvening every five years (or sooner) for the same purpose.

Also of concern was the requirement to submit names and addresses of clients as well as the names and addresses of drivers who deliver textiles to the city – both provisions were removed.

The Clean Act will take effect 180 days after it is signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. At that time, industrial laundries, not currently licensed by the city, will be required to submit a license application to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

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