Could recycled plastic yarn be the textile of the future?

Old, discarded fishing nets and other used nylons may seem like the type of waste that just sits in a landfill for years, but thanks to Italian company Aquafil, these tossed aside nylons are getting a new lease on life.

Aquafil launched Econyl in 2011, and introduced the world to its regeneration system designed to transform garbage nylon into a sustainable material for clothing, swimwear, carpets, and much more.  

Aquafil saves plastic netting and other plastic waste from the ocean and landfills, then sorts and cleans them to save as much of the nylon as possible.  Then, the nylon undergoes an extensive purification and regenerative process to turn the nylon back into “virgin” nylon. Once this is complete, the nylon is then processed into a yard that can be used for making clothing or carpets for interiors.  The great thing is, once the Econyl has served its purpose, it can be recycled and turned back into yarn to be turned into something else.

This regenerative process is incredible for the environment.  For every 10,000 tons of Econyl, 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved.  By reusing wasted nylon, CO2 emissions are lowered and the impact of global warming is reduced up to 80% compared to the material from oil.  Instead of doing away with this so called harmful plastic nylon, we can reuse it in a way that will actually help the environment.

Scientists and ecologists aren’t the only ones getting behind recycled nylon.  High end fashion designers, such as Gucci and ADIDAS are also using this revolutionary yarn to make a positive statement in the fashion world.  

Aquafil’s CEO Giulio Bonazzi stated “Gucci is at the forefront of sustainable good practices, and the high quality of ECONYL® is able to replace the traditional material in Gucci’s luxury fabrics without any compromise in quality. Gucci would never accept something below its superior standards.”

Aquafil is just one of the many companies looking for ways to make plastic more sustainable and fashionable.  What will your next swimsuit be made from?