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Aquafil’s Econyl Regenerated Nylon ‘Making Sizable Dent’ in Waste Stream

Aquafil, a manufacturer of innovative synthetic fibers, including Econyl regenerated nylon, reported in its annual sustainability report that 95 percent of its electricity consumption came from renewable sources in 2020.

Aquafil also reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 59 percent. Last year the company launched Aquafil Carpet Recycling, a new division focused on the recovery and processing of post-consumer rugs and carpets used to create Econyl regenerated nylon.

Aquafil Carpet Recycling is a circular economy-focused project where all of the recyclable materials are reused. The company said its facilities have the capacity to collect and treat 36 million pounds of carpet each year, making a sizable dent in the waste stream. Aquafil identifies different streams for the non-nylon elements such as polypropylene and calcium carbonate that are not used to make Econyl yarn, siphoning them off to be used by other manufacturers.

Another innovation the company achieved in 2020 was the development of a dual technology that enables the recycling of aquaculture nets used in fish farming. Aquaculture nets, made from nylon 6, have an antifouling coating in resin and copper oxide that prevents the proliferation of algae, allowing these items to withstand extreme weather conditions. The new process developed by Aquafil allows the separation of copper oxide from the nets, allowing the recovery of nylon 6 and metallic copper that can be recycled and used to create new materials.

Aquafil’s Econyl yarn is now used by more than 2,000 brands around the world, including Napapijri, an apparel brand that expanded its offer of circular products in 2020 by creating the recyclable Circular Series collection made from Econyl yarn and nylon 6. In addition, the company has launched a take-back program for consumers to return their jacket to the store for regeneration after two years.

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“Aquafil is fully committed to tackling today’s global challenges with sustainable solutions, though the journey to a circular economy does not end here. Sustainability goals and commitments must be met with action,” said Giulio Bonazzi, CEO and chairman of Aquafil. “Aquafil chose to become a leader in our industry over 10 years ago, showing that a circular business model can be done with great success. While a lot has been achieved, there is more that can be done. Our commitment to sustainability and the results that the group has achieved will continue on in full force, supporting employees, local communities and the environment.”

The Aquafil Group has a presence in eight countries on three continents, employing more than 2,700 staff at 18 plants located in Italy, Germany, Scotland, Slovenia, Croatia, the U.S., Thailand and China.