The UK’s largest domestic laundry service has cut its use of throwaway plastic by 90 percent

Matthew Barker, managing director of Barker Group, with reusable laundry boxes and a reusable garment carrier

Barker – which runs a door-to-door laundry service throughout Dorset and much of the south – has switched most of its domestic customers to long-lasting laundry boxes.

Its Sherborne branch was the first of its four dry cleaning shops to encourage customers to switch from collecting their clothes in polythene bags to reusable garment covers

Matthew Barker, managing director of the Wallisdown-based business, said: “Three years ago at Barker we set ourselves the ambitious target of reducing our use of ‘single use’ plastic by 90 per cent. We are extremely proud to say that we have achieved this ambition, particularly pleasing as it’s been achieved despite the recent challenges of Covid.

“We have converted almost 95 per cent of our 2,500 domestic laundry customers to long lasting laundry boxes which, whilst still plastic, have a 20-year life span.

“In our dry cleaning division, we previously reported that we had tried removing polythene packaging in one of our branches. This initiative proved hugely successful. We subsequently introduced re-useable garment covers in all our four stores and these are proving very popular with our customers, as well as looking extremely smart and professional and doing a great job of protecting clothing items.

“Whilst it’s recognized that we shall never lose plastic, as it’s probably one of the most effective wrappers ever invented, the way in which we use it and handle it will make all the difference to the future of our planet.”

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Barker is also known for supplying starched dress wear to the legal profession and to film and TV productions such as Downton Abbey, Poirot and Mr. Selfridge.

The company received a £25,000 grant at the end of 2019 from Dorset Council’s Low Carbon Dorset Programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

“The award allowed us to invest in various new equipment and laundry technology: two new washing machines, a boiler and a state-of-the-art water heating system,” said Mr. Barker.

“The new gas fired water heating system has enabled us to change from the steam method by which we previously heated water, thus reducing our use and reliance on fossil fuels by an impressive 50 per cent. The investment in technology has also delivered a significant saving in terms of reducing carbon emissions – over 90 tons CO2 per annum.”