Interview with Maria Giovanna Sandrini

Maria Giovanna Sandrini
Maria Giovanna Sandrini
Brand & Communication Manager
Aquafil SpA
Aquafil SpA

We want to produce nylon using only waste
Econyl regenerated nylon is a product of Aquafil, a leading manufacturer of synthetic fibres industry and a pioneer in quality, innovation and sustainability. Brand & communication manager, Maria Giovanna Sandrini talks about the process of turning plastic waste into yarns and its application in textiles and apparel.

What is regenerated nylon?

Econyl regenerated nylon is made by recovering Nylon 6 waste-such as fishing nets from the oceans and aquaculture, fabric scraps from mills, old carpets destined for landfills, plastic components and turning it into virgin-quality nylon yarn for the fashion and interior industries. Econyl has the same quality and performance as the nylon coming from crude oil, but is 100 per cent from waste.

Where do you procure the waste from?

We collect nylon waste all over the world through different initiatives and projects:
  • The Econyl Reclaiming Programme: Our reclaim managers are expanding the waste collection network across the globe with operations in the US, Egypt, Greece, Pakistan, Thailand, Norway, and Turkey-for all kinds of nylon waste.
  • The Healthy Seas initiative:  Volunteer divers are recovering abandoned or lost ghost nets from the bottom of the seas in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Croatia.
  • Net-Works: Founded by Interface with the Zoological Society London, it is a social initiative to empower coastal communities in the Philippines and Cameroon to collect and sell discarded fishing nets.
  • Aquafil carpet recycling facility: We established in the US a facility that allows us to recover nylon waste from old carpets. The first plant is located in Phoenix, but we want to open many of these recycling plants in many other locations.
Where do you procure the waste from?

What is the quantity of waste used to produce Econyl every day at Aquafil?

Sorry, but we are not allowed to share this kind of data.

How do you convert the plastic-waste into yarns?

Thanks to a chemical process entirely developed by Aquafil, nylon waste is transformed into brand new Econyl raw material which then goes into spinning machines and becomes Econyl regenerated nylon yarn for the fashion and interior industries.

Which are the major markets for Econyl? Where do you see the prospects growing?

Geographically speaking, our major market is Europe and most of the Econyl yarn is used for contract application. Prospect growing will be for sure the US and China and we foresee a big increase in the transportation field.

How did the idea of Econyl come about?

We realised the time was mature to start the journey towards sustainability and reverse the course of things during a business trip to Hawaii organised by one of our main customers.

How biodegradable is it?

It is not a biodegradable product. It is a regenerated and regenerable nylon yarn.

What is the annual production capacity of Econyl?

Econyl represents more than 35 per cent of the Aquafil Group 2018 turnover.

How eco-friendly is the production of regenerated nylon? What is the carbon and water footprint of the production process?

For every 10,000 tonnes of Econyl raw material, we can save 70,000 barrels of crude oil and avoid 57,100 tonnes of CO2  eq. emissions. As well as being a solution on waste, Econyl regenerated nylon is also better when it comes to climate change. It reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 80 per cent compared with the material from oil. How eco-friendly is the production of regenerated nylon? What is the carbon and water footprint of the production process?

What new yarns do you plan to experiment with in the future?

We want to produce nylon using only waste. We are also studying alternative ways to produce nylon from plant-based material. (HO)
Published on: 26/06/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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