The world is paying a heavy price for nylon. While the oceans are choking with almost 640,000 tons of discarded fishing nets, landfills are filling up with the nonbiodegradable material. At the same time, fossil fuels are being depleted to manufacture supplies of new nylon. Roughly 70 million barrels of crude oil are used up annually to produce virgin stretch nylon fabric, generating billions of pounds of plastic waste in the process, when an amazing untapped resource is sitting in landfills and floating in oceans.
This is where Econyl® has stepped in with an innovative, sustainable way of converting discarded waste material into a high-performance yarn. It is turning a serious problem into an ideal solution for environmentally conscious industries worldwide — from fashion brands creating swimwear to interior decorators offering clients greener options indistinguishable from unsustainable alternatives — while helping the planet in the process.
What Is Econyl®?
Econyl® is a trademark for regenerated nylon (think “eco nylon”) made from recycled material that would otherwise be clogging up the world’s oceans and landfills indefinitely. This radical solution to a global problem is pioneered by the Italian company Aquafil, whose president Giulio Bonazzi sees a goldmine where others see waste.
Through their revolutionary process, global nylon waste by collecting it from landfills and oceans and then turning it back into usable fabric. It has the same performance as brand-new nylon, and which can be recycled, recreated, and remoulded infinitely. In this light, potentially harmful materials are repurposed, and the environmentally costly process of creating new material is eliminated — it’s a win-win for everyone.
How Is Econyl® Made?
This eco-friendly material is created through the following process:
- Nylon 6 waste is gathered from local and international sources. The collected waste is then directed to the Econyl® treatment centre in Ajdovščina, Slovenia. Here, the different types of waste are cleaned, shredded, and sorted to recover as much of the nylon as possible.
- The shredded material is then moved to a regeneration plant and put into large chemical reactors. The sorted waste is subjected to a depolymerization and repolymerization process. This breaks down the components of the material and restructures and purifies it into the polyamide 6.
- The Econyl® regenerated nylon is then transformed into new high-performance textile yarns, which is then used in clothing products such as bathing suits and jackets.
How Does Econyl® Benefit the Environment?
The revolutionary nature of Econyl® is derived from its simplicity. This fabric is made from 100% regenerated nylon fibre that is in every way as good as virgin nylon, but without the damaging environmental effects — for example, the 70 million barrels of crude oil used to produce virgin stretch fabric (such as Lycra, Spandex, Nylon).
This is good news on several fronts:
- It is sustainable - Econyl® is made through a closed-loop process that uses less water and fuel than new nylon production. Its material is sourced entirely from Nylon 6 polymer salvaged from fishing nets, old carpets, and other non-recyclable nylon waste from oceans, factories, and landfills, which can then be reused and remoulded infinitely for clothing and interior decor. The regenerated nylon is scientifically proven to last twice as long as any other fabric on the market. In terms of quality, it is just as good as virgin nylon and is beautifully sustainable by turning trash into treasure.
- It reuses harmful plastic effluence - Over 10 billion pounds of plastic waste and about 640,000 tons of fishing gear and nets are lost or abandoned in our oceans. Once lost or discarded, these become “ghost nets” that entangle and suffocate innumerable species that normally not be hunted by people. Their bodies attract other marine creatures and sea birds, which in turn are caught; and the deadly cycle continues. Econyl® solves this problem in style by turning these dangerous materials into resources for textile companies. It reduces air, water, and soil contamination by saving 57,100 tons of CO2 EQ emissions for every 10,000 tons of Econyl® produced.
- It reduces global crude oil and water use - Switching to Econyl® also takes the pressure off dwindling fossil fuel reserves and water consumption. For every 10,000 tons of Econyl®, about 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved. This reduces the global climate change impact of nylon by up to 80% compared to conventional methods.
- It requires only 1/3 of the processing energy - For every 10,000 tons of Econyl®, 865,000 GJ is saved on total process energy.
Who Uses Econyl®?
As Econyl® has all the properties of traditionally made nylon 6, it has the same wide range of uses, with more than 160 fashion companies and 80 interior decoration firms using regenerated fibres.
- Apparel - Among environmentally aware fashion giants, regenerated nylon is used in everything from high-end designer handbags, weatherproof jackets, stylish clothes, hosiery, and lingerie. With all the qualities of virgin nylon, Econyl® is used to manufacture high-performance sportswear, swimwear, and outdoor apparel.
- Interior design - Econyl® is popular with interior designers interested in green housing practices. Accordingly, Econyl® carpet fibres are eligible for LEED® points, following worldwide standards for eco-friendly buildings using performance-driven carpets, carpet tiles, and rugs for an innovative sustainability solution.
- Automotive - The flexibility of Econyl®, its quality, durability, and adherence to safety standards, has made it a valuable asset for globally by car manufacturers. Econyl® yarn is used in car upholstery, carpeting, and mats in an industry that’s becoming more committed to sustainability.
Econyl® raises the bar for manufacturers everywhere. Its production is setting an excellent example of properly executed green initiatives that not only reduce waste but transforms it into something useful. It renews hope for a better and cleaner world.
ŪNIKA prioritizes quality and environmental consciousness. We believe that all fashion businesses should utilize sustainable means of design to pave the way to a more eco-friendly future. Our vision aligns with the ideals behind Econyl®. Our pieces are designed with this planet-saving fabric and are all handmade in Canada.
Whether you’re looking for one-piece swimsuits, bikinis, or custom-designed pieces, you can choose the best swimwear for your body at ŪNIKA. Visit our website, send us an email, or call us at (647) 347-7946 for inquiries or orders.