Aquafil’s ECONYL® yarn: Taking nylon from high water to high fashion
ECONYL® is a product from Aquafil, an Italian company founded in 1965 to produce synthetic fibres and polymers. The company is a global leader in the synthetic fibres industry and has set out to become a pioneer in quality, innovation and sustainability.
One of Aquafil’s strategic objectives is to create and distribute high-quality products with lower environmental impact. After completing a life-cycle assessment process, to determine the environmental impact of its products, the company established that most of the environmental impacts generated in the manufacture of nylon thread result from the production of the raw materials. This led the company to develop its ECONYL® Regeneration System, enabling them to substitute non-renewable virgin raw materials with secondary raw materials made from recycled waste products, including end-of-life fishing nets and ropes.
Aquafil began producing their ECONYL® polymer at their Julon plant in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2011 and in recent years have worked closely with suppliers, to develop a cooperative relationship based on transparency and a shared commitment to sustainability.
Nylon can be recycled using a method called depolymerisation. This process uses pressure and heat to break the long polymer (large molecule) chains down into their component parts which are called monomers. Once broken down, these monomers are indistinguishable from virgin ones sourced from crude oil. This means that they can be continually reformed into new products, potentially unlocking unlimited use cycles.
ECONYL® only uses a polymer known as Nylon-6. Aquafil have developed a network of suppliers which collect end-of-life fishing nets and ropes, extract the Nylon-6 and then sort and clean it to meet their requirements. Any rejected materials are sent for separate processing elsewhere. Once it has been processed, the reformed Nylon-6 can be used for manufacturing carpet or textile yarns. ECONYL® yarn is used by fashion and interior companies, to create clothing or other textile products.
As well as being a solution that makes use of waste material, Aquafil claim that ECONYL® regenerated nylon is also better when it comes to climate change as it reduces the global warming potential of the nylon manufacture process by up to 80%. They also state that for every 10,000 tons of raw material created they are able to save 70,000 barrels of crude oil and avoid 57,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) emissions.
Visit the ECONYL website
Find out more about initiatives tackling marine litter and end-of-life fishing gear