Downlite, a down and feather processor and supplier of responsibly sourced performance fills to the outdoor, home furnishings and hospitality markets based in Mason, Ohio, is installing a new wastewater recovery system that will allow the company to recycle and reuse up to 99 percent of the water used to clean and sanitize its down and feather fills.
The company, a supplier to such apparel firms as Patagonia, Ralph Lauren, Columbia and The North Face, said the move is in response to the growing concern over water scarcity and the increasingly stringent municipal water treatment requirements. Downlite’s processing facility about 20 miles outside of Cincinnati has the capacity to supply more than 50,000 pounds of clean and ready down fill material a week, which requires a large quantity of water to ensure the raw materials have been sufficiently cleaned and sterilized.
“Our wastewater recovery system will collect all of the contaminated water discharged from the wash, filter and treat it, and then return it back into the system to be reused,” said Josh Werthaiser, chief financial officer of Downlite, who is spearheading this sustainability initiative. “The system has the capacity to reduce Downlite’s annual water consumption by up to 54 million gallons.”
The company has partnered with water treatment specialist AOP-Trident to develop its custom wastewater recovery system that will return clean, filtered water back into the wash process. Construction of Downlite’s wastewater recovery system will begin this fall and be up and running by April.
Downlite’s wastewater recovery initiative follows its successful scrap recycling and LED light-saving programs. Each year, Downlite recovers and recycles more than 95 percent of its internal fiber scrap into usable materials, equating to more than 1 million pounds of material that would otherwise be lost to landfills. In addition, polyester batting and other quilted scrap waste is baled and sold to an outside source that regrinds the material to be used in other industrial end-use textiles.
Replacing traditional lighting fixtures with motion sensing, high-efficiency LED lighting at two of Downlite’s U.S. plants has reduced electricity use by more than 55 percent. Plans are now in place to upgrade another two of its processing facilities in 2016.
Downlite is a Bluesign system partner and a member of the American Down & Feather Council.