CINCINNATI – Mixing goose feathers with water creates an awful stink.

Mixing goose feathers with recycled water creates value.

That’s the big idea behind a new business partnership between Downlite International Inc. and Artesian Capital Partners.

ACP is investing more than $1 million in a new treatment facility at Downlite’s feather-washing plant in Blue Ash after the Mason-based maker of down-filled bedding products signed a 12-year contract to use the plant as its primary water source. By filling its king-sized laundry machines with up to 40 million gallons of recycled water, Downlite expects to save more than $1 million in the next 10 years in reduced water and sewer bills.

“It reduces our pull on the water system and allows us to be as self-sustaining as possible,” said Downlite Chief Financial Officer Josh Werthaiser. “We’re trying to be more environmentally friendly.”

The 350-employee company sells directly to consumers and serves as a wholesaler for manufacturers like Patagonia. It also makes private-label products for Eddie Bauer, Sealy and Trump Home Furnishings.

Pipes and pumps have already been installed at the Palace Drive plant where Downlite uses up to 120,000 gallons per day to wash and rinse feathers, which are loaded into laundry machines 220 pounds at a time.

The feathers arrive already sterilized and packed into huge bags, shipped from China and Europe. Downlite converts them to hypoallergenic stuffing for pillows, comforters, mattresses and coats.

“Smells like wet dog,” Werthaiser joked of the laundry process that produces a monthly water and sewer tab of about $30,000.

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