Waste Diversion: Nonwoven Textiles from Scrap

Leigh Fibers President Donald Bockoven will likely smile if you tell him his company is doing a “shoddy job” with regards to the American automotive industry.

That’s because Leigh Fibers, a textile waste recycler, helps divert nearly 160 million pounds of global textile waste from landfills each year. The company converts scrap from textile manufacturers into fiber that can be used to manufacture a variety of products that make vehicles lighter and safer and their passenger cabins, quieter. One of these products is known in the industry as “Shoddy.”

“We’ve turned the waste textile manufacturers would have to pay to send to a landfill into something valuable, and depending on its value, we pay them for it,” Bockoven said. “By creating a revenue stream from their waste, we help them reinvest in their companies and reduce landfill waste at the same time.”

That saves the textile industry between $6.4 million and $9.6 million annually in global landfill tipping fees.

In addition to purchasing textile waste product, Leigh Fibers also helps textile companies and others become “zero waste” operations by devising plans to keep waste streams separate, thus maximizing the value of the waste streams for reuse or recycling.

The company’s QuietLeigh™ and SafeLeigh® lines of products use a proprietary blend of reclaimed fiber engineered to meet fire resistance and sound-deadening specifications for vehicle insulation materials. Automotive manufacturers in the U.S. purchase the fiber and mold it into a variety of insulating parts such as acoustical panels for vehicle floors, doors and wheel wells, and as backing for headliners and floor carpets.

“We contribute to a smaller greenhouse gas footprint by saving material that otherwise would have to be made new,” Bockoven said. “And the end product makes vehicles lighter, so they’re more fuel-efficient, all while meeting strict safety standards.”