In 2010, the U.S. and European Union produced approximately 15 million tons of textile waste, including an estimated 1 million tons of nylon 6, used in various polymers and yarns. The Aquafil Group, Arco, Italy, introduced the Econyl® processing project in 2011, and in its first two years has recovered 16,000 tons of post-consumer waste from fishing nets, carpet fluff and rigid plastic; recovered 4,000 tons of post-consumer goods; and produced 12,000 tons of regenerated caprolactam, the raw material to make nylon 6.
The company’s products include bulk continuous filaments, nylon textile filaments and bulk plastics, and the Econyl process has revolutionized nylon 6 production. Aquafil Group created an international network to collect materials and a logistics chain to transport materials to the first Econyl production system at Aquafil’s plant in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Caprolactam, derived from petroleum, is regenerated through the Econyl process, and the recovered material saves 70,000 barrels of oil each year. In addition, much of the recovered waste consists of fishing nets that often end up discarded on the sea floor, contributing to injury and death of marine life.