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Glen Raven Facility Nears Zero Waste Goal

Glen Raven, N.C.-based Glen Raven Inc. reports its Glen Raven Technical Fabrics facility in Burnsville, N.C., is very close to eliminating all manufacturing waste. The plant — which manufactures fabric for products including sailcloth, flags and banners, ballistic vests and other protective apparel — recycles waste fiber and yarn scraps from its manufacturing process; recycles office paper, batteries, fluorescent tubes, clear plastics and cardboard; repairs and reuses wooden pallets and plastic crates; and collects food waste from its cafeteria for a local hog farmer.

The facility is in the final stages of becoming completely waste-free as plant engineers have devised a separation and reprocessing technique for hard-to-recycle items such as soiled fabric, cutting scraps and floor sweepings. Such items can be used as filler in packaging and insulation products, and also in absorbent materials used in cleanup efforts after an oil spill or similar incident.

"With recycling, it's often a matter of simply adding one additional step to processes that already are in place," said Randy Blackston, director of operations, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics. "Everyone at the plant has bought in to taking the extra step to separate out the recyclable items. The time and cost are negligible, but the benefits are huge."

Glen Raven has a company-wide green initiative in place with all facilities recycling, reusing and reducing their carbon footprint. The company reports its Anderson, S.C.-based Sunbrella® fabric plant has been landfill-free for almost three years; and later this year, a new solar panel array will begin operation at its Norlina, N.C., Sunbrella yarn plant.

September/October 2011