Reimagining Waste: Celebrating Ten Years of ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon
Image: Gucci Off The Grid 2020 Campaign
Today, ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon celebrates a decade of closing the loop. Utilised by brands globally, the infinitely recyclable yarn has been providing more responsible solutions for the fashion and interior industries for the last ten years.
“Waste, for me, is not something to be disposed of, but a fantastic resource,” says The Aquafil Group CEO and Chairman, Giulio Bonazzi. “When I see a landmine site, I really see a goldmine.” It is this thinking that, ten years ago, inspired Aquafil to create ECONYL® regenerated nylon and build a circular solution to tackling the planet’s pollution problem.
With regeneration the foundation of the brand’s ideology, ECONYL® regenerated nylon is created by turning nylon waste such as fishing nets, old carpets and textile scraps into an infinitely recyclable material that still boasts the same qualities of that of brand-new nylon. Statistically speaking, ECONYL® regenerated nylon is an important solution to the planet’s rehabilitation. For every 10,000 tons of ECONYL® regenerated nylon created, 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved, and 65,100 tonnes of CO2 eq. emissions are avoided.
With initial research into the life cycle of nylon 6 products (carpets and fishing nets, for example) illustrating the challenges disassembly would pose to creating this regenerative process, the brand looked to new technologies to help realise its vision. “This hurdle forced us to literally invent and implement a new set of technologies to disassemble the various components while finding different purposed for each one of them to avoid sending any product to landfill,” explains Bonazzi. The solution? In the past ten years, Aquafil has worked to reverse logistic and supply chain, implemented a responsible procurement process and build an industrial plant to ensure the regeneration of nylon waste.
In 2013, Aquafil launched the Healthy Seas Foundation, in collaboration with Star Sock and the NGO Ghost Diving, with the goal of tackling the ghost fishing phenomenon. Collecting waste nets and turning them into ECONYL® yarn, the programme looks to save both marine life while also providing a valuable resource for a circular economy. In 2020, Healthy Seas collected 75,000 kgs of waste nets that would otherwise be left as ocean pollution.
A decade into its mission and ECONYL® regenerated nylon has become an industry favourite for dramatically reducing a product’s environmental impact. Favoured by the likes of Stella McCartney, Gucci, Adidas and an iconic feature of our Green Carpet Fashion Awards, here are just a few ways the industry has committed to reclaiming nylon waste.
Image: Stellawear, Stella McCartney
Image: ReBurberry 2020 Collection, Burberry
As part of Stella McCartney’s commitment to being both restorative and regenerative by design, its use of ECONYL®regenerated nylon has “stopped over 10 tonnes of nylon making its way to landfill.” While having pledged to switch all its nylon use to ECONYL® regenerated nylon, the yarn is currently used throughout its Stellawear collection and Falabella GO bags, as well as featuring heavily in some of its most recent seasonal collections.
Having committed to converting all use of virgin nylon into ECONYL® regenerated nylon by 2021, the 2019 Prada Re-Nylon capsule collection saw the launch of six classic styles entirely produced from recycled fishing nets and textile waste. The collection debuted alongside a National Geographic series detailing the journey of ECONYL® yarn from the ocean floor to the factory. Prada’s Re-Nylon also made headlines when actor Timothée Chalamet took to the 2020 Oscars red carpet in an ECONYL® regenerated nylon ensemble.
A reimagining of its most classic pieces, the 2019 ‘ReBurberry Edit’ used ECONYL® regenerated nylon to create a more sustainable solution to its trench coats, parkas and accessories. Designed with disruption in mind, the use of ECONYL® yarn was essential to the reinvention and innovation at the heart of the capsule collection.
Gucci Off The Grid
The first collection from Gucci Circular Lines, Gucci Off the Grid comprises of recycled, organic, and bio-based materials, including ECONYL® regenerated nylon. Designed in line with Gucci’s commitment to decreasing its carbon footprint, many of the products make use of ECONYL® regenerated nylon: from bags using 100% regenerated polyamide to sportswear combining the yarn with recycled polyester zips, labels, and drawstrings.
Image: Elin Tights, Swedish Stockings
Image: The Circular Series, Napapijri
The Green Carpet Fashion Awards
Paving the way for some of the fashion industry’s largest award shows, Aquafil has created a series of show-stopping carpets using ECONYL® regenerated nylon. A key feature at many of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, the use of regenerated nylon yarn has allowed for a complete reimagining of the concept of a ‘green carpet’ and has since become the green carpet provider of choice for many sustainability-minded events.
In 2019, casualwear brand Napapijri collaborated with Aquafil to release the first of its fully circular, 100% recyclable apparel collection, the Circular Series. Through its mono-material composition – filling and trims made from Nylon 6 and fabric from ECONYL®regenerated nylon – the use of one material allows for an easier recycling process and consequently creates a collection that can be recycled again and again.
Most commonly made from petroleum-based products, tights pose one of fashion’s largest waste problems, with as many as two billion pairs being discarded each year. Sustainable tight company Swedish Stockings instead collaborated with Aquafil to design the ‘Elin tights’, instead making use of ECONYL® yarn to create a collection of tights both made from and knitted using sustainable production methods.
In 2016, the BMW Group began using ECONYL® regenerated nylon to make its floor and floormats for some of its newest models. Through this shift to a more innovative and responsible material use, sustainability has become a priority for one of the automotive industry’s leading companies.
See how Eco-Age has worked with Aquafil and other clients to create progressive sustainability solutions.