03 May 2019

This Italian Company Wants Your Swimsuit to Be Made From Garbage

May 3, 2019

BLOOMBERG – by Chiara Remondini

To you, it’s a garbage dump. To Italian entrepreneur Giulio Bonazzi, it’s the launchpad for a Stella McCartney handbag or a pair of Levi’s jeans.

“When I look at a landfill, I see a goldmine,” Bonazzi, the founder and chief executive officer of nylon manufacturer Aquafil, said in an interview.

As volumes of plastic-based waste reach a tipping point in oceans and trash heaps around the world, Bonazzi’s company is recycling the material and turning it into nylon used to make upscale apparel and accessories.

And with heightened consumer awareness and tougher environmental rules, the CEO sees unlimited potential for sales of the company’s Econyl thread. The yarn is made from recycled material which may have started life as carpet or industrial plastic, or even part of an abandoned fishing net — an increasingly promising area for recycling.

“Consumer demand for new products is almost endless, but the planet’s resources aren’t,” Bonazzi, 56, said. “That’s OK, because we can have both state-of-the-art products and a better environment.”

Check That Label
Check your label: you may already own a swimsuit, workout clothes or casual wear made from Econyl. Adidas AG, Levi Strauss & Co. and Speedo International are just three of the better-known clients using the yarn, according to the company.

Consumers may be more willing than ever to pay premium prices for products made from planet-friendly materials, and Bonazzi says Econyl, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of Aquafil’s fiber sales, is clearly a “top-quality and thus top-margin” product for the company.

That’s borne out by the fiber’s use by high-end fashion names like Gucci, the CEO said. The Stella McCartney brand has also said it will stop using virgin nylon by 2020 — and use more Econyl.

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