HISTORY OF RECYCLED OCEAN WASTE - ECONYL AND ITS SUSTAINABILITY
Updated: Sep 2
Choosing the right materials is the first step toward environmental awareness. That's why we as UK based swimwear manufacturers are constantly seeking sustainable textiles and leathers, often researching the production process. This helps in evaluating the efficient utilisation of resources. Today, many items we use are made of Econyl, a sustainable fibre regenerated by the Aquafil company. Rather than crude oil, the industrial wastes and old plastic materials are converted into Econyl to produce nylons. The produced nylon is then recycled and reused without losing its quality.
What is Econyl?
Econyl is a nylon 6 fabric reproduced from plastic wastes such as old rugs, fish nets, carpets, textile wastes, old garments, and more. They're made innovatively with a close loop manufacturing process. These fibre materials are often strong, durable, and flexible. As such, it is significantly applied in the fashion industry. The reproduced nylon fibres are weaved into fabrics to produce sweaters, swimwear, underwear, sportswear, and other garments. Although Econyl is often used alone, it can be combined with other natural, synthetic fibbers to increase its elasticity.
The History of Econyl
Econyl is a trademark used by Aquafil, an Italian plastic company. Aquafil has produced several other textiles and industrial plastics. However, it's known to produce Econyl fabrics. The company is inspired by the harsh environmental impacts caused by synthetic fibres. The company's main objective was to look for a sustainable nylon alternative that doesn't impact the ecosystem.
The company began the nylon recycling process in the 1990s and explored a comprehensive nylon reuse cycle in 2007, which contributed to Econyl production and the closed-loop production process in 2011. Nylon recycling to produce Econyl reduces the global warming effects of nylon by a great percentage compared to oil-produced materials. Additionally, the materials can be recycled repeatedly without losing their value.
How is Econyl Produced?
The company follows a "life cycle thinking" approach to produce Econyl. The process involves the following procedures:
· Oil extraction
· Oil transformation
· Caprolactam production
· Yarn production
All the above-mentioned methods prevent Co2 emission by a greater percentage.
What are the Properties of Econyl?
Econyl is a special fabric with several unique qualities. It is generally applied just like polyester in fashion industries. This regenerated nylon is elastic, strong, and lightweight. It is a synthetic material, making it resistant to hostility or damages caused by insects or environmental factors.
Econyl is not resistant to chemicals and can melt in harsh acidic conditions. Additionally, it’s known to be stiff and resilient. And since it's a waterproof material, Econyl can be used in activewear and swimwear. The nylon is also shown to dry quickly, unlike natural fibres.
Like other synthetic fibres, this regenerated material is non-breathable. It's also water-resistant and can quickly absorb heat. It has low water absorbency and loses moisture within minutes. Econyl is non-resistant to sunlight. Its physical and mechanical properties often degrade when exposed to sunlight. Moreover, this regenerated fibre is very flammable. It can catch fire quickly when exposed to sparkles. However, they’re easy to maintain.
What are the Usage of Econyl?
Econyl is applied in many fashion brands today. It's often applied to flooring and carpet. It can also be used in making other products such as ropes, lines, and fabrics. Additionally, it can be used in the apparel industry for fashion items made of nylons.
Is Econyl sustainable? Each 10 thousand tons of Econyl can save up to 70 thousand barrels of crude oil. These eco-friendly fabrics can avert up to 65 thousand tons of Co2.
Econyl reduces the effects of global warming by nearly 90% than virgin oil nylon.
Another sustainability proof is the company’s project of clearing marine litter from the oceans and seas.
Other reasons why Econyl is considered sustainable
Econyl is one of the most eco-friendly materials available today. The company uses green energy and is committed to clearing plastic litter and consumer waste. Although the fibre may not be biodegradable, it can be regenerated repeatedly, making it a perfect alternative for virgin nylon.
Econyl plastics contribute to cleaning ocean plastic.
We are all aware that fishing nets endangers marine life. Often referred to as "ghost nets," fishing nets disappear in the oceans where they entangle or trap fish and other sea creatures. To put it into perspective, approximately 10% of marine litter involves fishing waste, meaning between 500,000 and 1 million tons of fishing gear enter the ocean each year. In the previous year, Aquafil cleared about 185,500 kgs of fishing nets and other industrial wastes from the ocean.
Reduces landfill waste
Aquafil prevents textile rejects from entering landfills. The recycling facilities used by the company are effective in diverting waste. These facilities can process nearly 36 million pounds of carpet yearly. The reality is that over 11.2 million tons of textile reject usually enter landfills annually. Due to their rigid materials, many of these wastes can take centuries to decompose. These textiles are responsible for greenhouse methane gas. They are also shown to release harmful chemicals into the groundwater and soil.
Sustainable manufacturing process
Finally, the sustainability of Econyl can be determined by observing the company's manufacturing methods. In 2017, Econyl caprolactam production prevented up to 150,000 Carbon emissions and saved over 2.8 million GJ of energy. Each metric ton of caprolactam produced by the Econyl process saves over 16.2 gigajoules of energy and seven barrels of oil. Also, 1.1 metric tons of waste are tossed compared to the production of nylon.
Therefore, it’s important to conclude that Econyl plays a massive role in keeping our environment safe.
The bottom line
Econyl is regenerated nylon with great environmental benefits. These eco-friendly nylons can be recycled repeatedly without losing their quality. The production process saves energy and prevents tons of carbon emissions. Additionally, it sustains marine life by clearing plastic litter in the ocean. Besides the ocean, Econyl production prevents litter from entering the landfills. All these ensure that future generations enjoy a clean and non-hostile environment. So, there are no doubts regarding Econyl’s sustainability. We as econyl swimwear manufacturers truly put the above words into practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Econyl waterproof?
Answer: Econyl is not inherently waterproof; its waterproof properties depend on how it's used in a product or application like swimwear and if it's treated with a waterproofing agent.
What is Econyl made from?
Answer: Econyl is made from recycled materials, primarily nylon waste such as discarded fishing nets, fabric scraps, and industrial plastic waste.
What is Econyl fabric used for?
Answer: Econyl fabric is primarily used for sustainable fashion and textiles, including swimwear, activewear, and fashion apparel.