Manufacturers like Interface and Milliken, as well as apparel brands like Adidas and Volcom, use Aquafil’s Econyl yarn – made from 100% regenerated nylon waste – in products like sportswear, swimwear and carpets. Now, a new facility in Phoenix will recycle the Nylon 6 waste from carpets back into raw material, giving Aquafil material to create more Econyl yarn and increasing the supply for textile and carpet manufacturers.
Aquafil, a manufacturer of polyamide (or Nylon 6), established its own energy and recycling business in 2007 to boost the sustainability activities of the company. Through research and development, the company developed its Econyl Regeneration System, which separates Nylon 6 waste from carpets. The system helps the company be involved in the “circular economy,” and is an important commercial driver for the company, Aquifil says. Aquafil is opening its first US carpet recycling facility, Aquifil Carpet Recycling (ACR) #1, in Phoenix. When the facility is operational in 2018, it will have the capacity to collect and treat 35 million pounds of carpet per year, repurposing waste that is otherwise destined for landfill, according to the company.
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 says it has partnered with more than 160 brands to provide them with Econyl yarn, to date, and claims that it is helping to make the fashion industry more sustainable. Aquafil also separates Nylon 6 from fishing nets to create Econyl. A joint report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and UN Environment Programme says there are about 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets in the oceans, accounting for one-tenth of all marine litter.
Earlier this year, Adidas unveiled its SS17 Parley swim range made from Econyl yarn fibers. More recently, sustainable swimwear brand Auria brought “fishnet bikinis” made from Econyl to London Fashion Week.