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NYLON - Garbage to Gears

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by - 12/15/2015 2972 Views

Upcycling Nylon

70 year ago the U.S. chemical giant DuPont announced the significant invention in the history of industrial research":  NYLON. According to them it is as strong as steel and fine as a cobweb.

The invention of nylon, also called as the "miracle fiber," was among the first of a series of revolutionary synthetic products. It was a cheap alternative to natural fabrics, nylon offered a material that could be stained, machine-washed, and re-used countless times.

Even though it can be appreciated for its various applications from violin strings to jungle gym ropes to automobile tires have provided innumerable benefits. But at the same time, the material's simplicity has encouraged a culture of consumerism, and its production has been a significant source of pollution.

After the second World  War, nylon production expanded for the clothing, carpeting, and automobile industries as the U.S. economy boomed. In 1969 it found its way to the Moon, in the astronauts' space suits and the flag they planted on the surface.

Nylon, however, has a history of environmental concerns. Manufacturing all nylon products depends heavily on large amounts of crude oil. Another main ingredient is the chemical adipic acid. Efficient pollution controls have reduced adipic acid emissions 61 percent between 1990 and 2006, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But the chemical still accounts for 5-8 percent of global human-caused emissions of N2O.

But many nylon products, such as carpets and tires, are still being reused in different forms. DuPont, Evergreen, and BASF Corporation have built nylon-carpet recycling facilities in North America and Europe. While the purification and remanufacturing processes do create some waste, this system (which recycles 25 million kilograms of carpet annually) is nearly a closed loop.

In 1970, nylon accounted for about 40 percent of the world's synthetic fibers. Since then, polyester-cheaper although less durable-has taken over. Nearly 4 million tons of nylon was made in 2005, mostly in the United States and more recently in China. According to a statistics, almost 30 million tons of polyester was produced in 2004. Overall nylon production appears to be falling about 0.35 percent each year.

Polyester, however, also consumes significant oil during production. Yet a Cambridge University study found that polyester materials consume less life-cycle energy than organic apparel, which require frequent washings at high temperatures, tumble-drying, and ironing.

Nylon filaments, on the other hand, are growing in demand for tire production as China and India purchase more cars.

With global fiber consumption expected to reach 96.4 million tons by 2020, it has become apparent that a linear economy where we produce, consume and dispose of products after a one-time use is not sustainable. Through Aquafil’s various collaborations with carpet and apparel industries, we’ve noticed an increased trend towards the use of sustainable materials and fabrics in product manufacturing. Companies that are looking to move beyond recycled post-consumer waste are starting to shift towards suppliers that are taking a unique but sustainable approach to production, such as the implementation of closed-loop manufacturing systems.

Recognizing this trend, Aquafil created the ECONYL Regeneration System as an alternative solution for companies looking to manufacture products from fiber material, specifically Nylon 6, with a conscience. Many people are not aware that Nylon 6 scrap is not only fully recyclable, it is the only fiber material that is actually upcyclable, in that it can be transformed into regenerated polymers an infinite number of times. Simply put, we are redirecting waste that would otherwise end up in landfills and oceans, and transforming the material back to original quality for use in the creation of new products.

Environmental Accountability:

As a global manufacturer, Aquafil has always recognized the importance of being accountable to the environmental concerns and the sustainability — and not just from a product standpoint. We chose to locate our headquarters in a region where strict environmental standards are in place, and have been tirelessly improving sustainability efforts in business operations and across our entire supply chain.

The environmental advantages of using ECONYL to manufacture new products can be proven through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) calculations. In fact, when compared to petroleum alternatives, the production of nylon fiber using the ECONYL polymer results in 55 percent less greenhouse gas emissions and 54 percent less energy use. Each year we see a larger margin, which reassures us we are taking steps in the right direction in contributing to a circular economy.

Promoting Sustainability Through Collaboration

A prime example of how taking a circular approach to business practices can yield new opportunities and further drive a company’s sustainability goals is the Healthy Seas Initiative, which is aimed at recovering and recycling abandoned fishing nets from oceans. Aquafil founded this initiative with a Dutch NGO and sock company Star Sock in order to develop a sustainable system to promote marine protection and reduce ocean debris.

Aquafil plays a fundamental role in this initiative. By feeding the recovered marine waste through the ECONYL Regeneration System, ghost fishing nets are not only recovered from our seas but also become a useful resource for more sustainable product manufacturing. This regenerated ECONYL nylon scrap yarn can be used to produce a wide range of textile products such as sportswear, swimwear and carpets.

Since its Spring 2013 launch, Healthy Seas volunteers have conducted 14 dives recovering more than 50 tons of fishing nets from the North Sea, garnering support from various brands within the industry such as Desso and Interface, among others. We are currently implementing two pilot projects along the Adriatic coastline and in the Mediterranean Sea — two regions that are heavily fished and contain the wreckage of countless vessels where nets tend to accumulate.

Looking Ahead

As we move into an increasingly circular world, there is a great need to promote this emerging movement through discourse and engagement in industry events. In 2013, Aquafil joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Circular Economy 100 program. The CE100 Acceleration Workshop, where 90 companies across countless industries come together to share concepts and identify solutions, it’s a beautiful thing. New and existing members engage in discussions about circular culture and exchange quality examples of companies that are successfully making the switch from linear to circular business practices. Together, companies can better address these global issues and work towards action oriented solutions when we share the same beliefs and apply them to our business practices.

Category : Nylon

Tags : Nylon Scrap, Nylon 6 Scrap, Nylon Scrap Market, Nylon Scrap Trend, Nylon Scrap Price, Nylon Scrap current Market


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About Georgy Abraham

As the bright morning of 28th May dawned in the year 1972, in the fulfillment of time according to the plan & will of Almighty Godbrought me forth into this world and I was brought up & educated in Orissa. My parents provided me with the best of education in an English medium school with high standa .... more info

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