The ECONYL® Regeneration System is the world's most efficient industrial system for the production of Nylon 6 from 100% regenerated waste materials. Conceptualized and designed entirely by the Aquafil Group, with an investment of nearly 25 million €, this innovative system was introduced in 2011 to produce Nylon 6 polymers from:
- Post-consumer waste (i.e. end-of-life products) made from Polyamide 6 including fishing nets, fluff (the top part of carpets and rugs) and rigid textiles
- Pre-consumer waste such as oligomers, scraps and others generated from the production of Nylon 6.
– Infinite, as the Polyamide 6 waste can be regenerated an infinite number of times to produce new polymers with technical characteristics and quality equivalent to products obtained from fossil materials;
– Innovative, as it is the only system of its kind anywhere in the world in terms of efficiency and productivity;
– Sustainable, as it recovers waste which would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans (fishing nets), causing serious damage to the entire ecosystem. It also enables real savings in terms of natural resources — about 70 barrels of oil per 10,000 tons of regenerated caprolactam produced — as no virgin caprolactam is used to produce it (as in common Nylon).
One of Aquafil’s strategic objectives is to create and distribute high quality products with lower environmental impact. To this aim, it is essential to measure environmental performance in order to gain a better understanding of which phases of the life cycle need to be improved. Therefore, for over three years Aquafil has used life cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool for determining the environmental impacts of its products.
The LCA approach has shown that most of the environmental impacts generated when manufacturing nylon thread result from the production of raw materials.
This has led to the development of the ECONYL® Regeneration System which has enabled us to substitute non-renewable virgin raw materials with secondary raw materials made of recycled waste products such as end-of-life fishing nets and used carpet fluff.
With the aim of improving the ECONYL® production chain, in 2015 Aquafil launched the first phase of the “ECONYL® Qualified” project in collaboration with its suppliers.
The aim of the project is to develop a qualification protocol to award the excellence of companies that supply Aquafil with goods or services for the manufacturing of ECONYL® yarn. The qualification process is based on specific guidelines, aimed at encouraging excellence and bringing innovation into the supply chain.
The first step of this project consists in developing guidelines in collaboration with four carefully chosen suppliers who perform “product transportation” and “packaging production” pilot testing activities.