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Fiber Producers Embrace Bioengineering to Drive Sustainable Material Adoption

Nylon producer Aquafil and bioengineering firm Genomatica have formed Project Effective, a multi-company collaboration to produce more sustainable fibers and plastics for commercial use.

To do it, the pair plans to embrace renewable feedstocks and bio-based technologies.

One of the key objectives of Project Effective is to develop a more sustainable nylon made from bio-based caprolactam produced using renewable feedstocks. With participation from 12 companies, including brands like H&M, Carvico, Vaude and Balsan, Project EFFECTIVE is one of the broadest industry-driven efforts to reshape entire product value chains and drive economic growth.

The project’s plan is to involve apparel and carpet brands in the development process as a means of validation and to have them contribute their customer and industry experience and perspectives. This brand participation is expected to facilitate broader and faster adoption of sustainable technologies and products. The project also wants to communicate to the industry which monomers, polymers and sustainability initiatives are commercially available, and enable them to develop plans with suppliers regarding bio-based ingredients and materials.

“More renewables in product value chains means more impact,” Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica, said. “More and more manufacturers and brands get it; more and more are taking action. We look forward to rapidly expanding the circle of action.”

Project Effective’s stakeholders span eight countries and are leaders in renewable feedstocks, conversion technologies, makers of intermediate and finished products, major consumer brands and recycling technologies. In addition to Aquafil and Genomatica, participants include H&M, Carvico, Vaude, Balsan, Circular Change, Life Cycle Engineering, Bio-Mi, Südzucker, Fundación CIRCE and Novamont.

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“This consortium is an important step toward a more circular economy,” Giulio Bonazzi, chairman and CEO of Aquafil, said. “Together we will drive new waves of healthy industrialization, economic growth and greater sustainability–better than we can individually.”

Aquafil is a key player in the production of polyamide 6 (nylon 6). The Aquafil Group has a presence in eight countries on three continents, employing more than 2,700 staff at 15 plants located in Italy, Germany, Scotland, Slovenia, Croatia, the U.S., Thailand and China.

Genomatica develops bio-based process technologies that enable a better way to produce widely-used chemicals from alternative feedstocks with better economics, sustainability and performance. Genomatica has commercialized processes for two important chemicals–butanediol for biodegradable plastics and apparel, and butylene glycol for cosmetics and personal care.

The initiative is funded in part through a grant from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking, a public-private partnership between the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program and the Bio-based Industries Consortium. Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Horizon 2020’s purpose is to use research as an investment to attain the European Union’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.