Aquafil Global has invested $10 million to open its first U.S. carpet recycling facility in Phoenix to produce its Econyl yarn for use in apparel and carpeting.
The Aquafil Carpet Recycling facility will recycle the nylon 6 waste from carpets back into raw material, further enhancing its Econyl Regeneration System, a technology capable of regenerating nylon 6 from carpets and other waste, including fishing nets.
Aquafil’s Econyl yarn helps divert global waste streams from landfills and oceans and is used to produce a wide range of textile products, including sportswear, swimwear and carpets.
The company noted that each year in the U.S., four billion pounds of carpet is discarded in landfills. Once operational in 2018, the facility, which the company is calling ACR #1, will have the capacity to collect and treat 35 million pounds of carpet per year, making a sizable dent in the waste stream, the company said.
“We’re not comfortable with the status quo—in this case that less than five percent of carpet waste is recycled,” said Aquafil chief executive officer Giulio Bonazzi. “We know nylon 6 waste can be powerful with the proper technology and we’re honored to call Phoenix home to that power with ACR #1.”
Carpet recycling has historically been a challenge due to the many different materials used, along with designs that do not allow for easy separation. Aquafil said ACR #1 aims to contribute to its continuing effort to offer innovative solutions to waste.
Through the Econyl Regeneration System, Aquafil avoids the use of petroleum, reduces carbon emissions and gives waste an extended life without sacrificing quality.
[Read more about textile recycling: Post-Consumer Textile Recycling Gains Momentum in Apparel Sector]
ACR #1 is expected to create 50 new jobs, and will repurpose waste that is otherwise destined for landfills, getting Aquafil closer to its goal of producing Econyl yarn from 100 percent post-consumer waste.
“We want to recycle as much carpet as possible by establishing a number of these facilities throughout the U.S.,” said Bonazzi. “This activity will be closely connected to our fishing nets recycling efforts, which diverts millions of pounds of waste from our oceans.”
In 2007, Aquafil established the Energy & Recycling business unit to boost the sustainable activities of the Aquafil Group. Thanks to its research and development activities the Econyl Regeneration System was created.
Econyl yarn is in high demand with carpet and textile manufacturers, as well as apparel brands. To date, Aquafil has partnered with more than 160 brands, including Adidas, Volcom and Stella McCartney, along with carpet manufacturers such as Interface, Milliken, Mannington and Tarkett Group.
Since 1969, Aquafil has been one of the leading players, both in Italy and globally, in the production of polyamide, or nylon 6. The Aquafil Group has a presence in eight countries on three continents, employing more than 2,700 staff at 14 plants located in Italy, Germany, Scotland, Slovenia, Croatia, the U.S., Thailand and China.