Downlite, a major down and feather processor and supplier of responsibly sourced performance fills to the outdoor, home furnishings and hospitality markets, recently unveiled its new waste-water recovery system.

The system allows Downlite to recycle and reuse up to 99 percent of the water used to clean and sanitize its down and feather fills, saving up to 40 million gallons of water annually.

Downlite partnered with Ohio-based water-treatment specialists Artesian Capital Partners, which designed and constructed the system, and now operates it off-site.

“Water is the new oil,” said Josh Werthaiser, Downlite chief financial officer. “With growing concerns over water scarcity and increasingly stringent municipal water-treatment requirements, we took on this significant and complex initiative, which took over a year, in our endeavor to become a greener company.”

Downlite’s down processing facility, based outside of Cincinnati, has the capacity to supply more than 100,000 pounds of clean and ready down fill material per week. This requires a large quantity of water to ensure the raw materials have been sufficiently cleaned and sterilized.

“We use up to 120,000 gallons of water per day when our three giant washers are in use to ensure high-quality cleaning,” said Kevin Borgquist, Downlite director of processing and sourcing. “Since the system was installed in October, we’ve saved about 8 million gallons of water.”

Wastewater from the down processing machines travels through Downlite’s 65,000-square-foot plant to the treatment system and into an aerobic basin to remove organic waste. The water then moves to membrane filtration to remove any remaining waste. The clean water is stored and sent through ozone disinfection before it goes back to the plant for reuse. The sludge recovered from filtration is gathered and composted.

Downlite’s wastewater recovery system is the latest in a series of ongoing environmental and sustainability initiatives that include installing LED lighting in its plants and office buildings, adherence to Bluesign certification and down traceability, and the development of TDS and RDS down standards.

“We are always looking at how we can minimize environmental impact and what Downlite can do about it,” said Werthaiser.

Based in Mason, Ohio, Downlite is a leading U.S. manufacturer of down and feather, and synthetic bedding products. Its products, from outerwear to bedding, are sold under private label and national brand names in leading department and specialty stores, and catalogues.