Aquafil partners with Speedo USA on a closed-loop manufacturing system

Aquafil partners with Speedo USA on a closed-loop manufacturing system

Italian nylon manufacturer will recycle Speedo's fabric scrap for use in new swimsuits.

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August 4, 2015

Trento, Italy-based carpetmaker and nylon recycler Aquafil has partnered with Speedo USA on a takeback program that will allow Speedo USA’s postmanufacturing swimwear scraps to be upcycled into Aquafil’s 100 percent regenerated Econyl nylon.

Through the takeback program, leftover fabric scraps which could otherwise end up in landfills will be turned back into raw nylon fiber and eventually new swimsuits, the companies say. Launching this week, Speedo’s new PowerFlex Eco swimwear fabric is made from Econyl and is endlessly recyclable, according to Aquafil, creating a closed-loop manufacturing partnership between the two companies.

“Our partnership with Speedo USA shows their commitment to the environment with the take-back program, but also their ingenuity in creating products from materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times,” says Giulio Bonazzi,chairman and CEO of Aquafil. “They are really helping us close the loop and create a more sustainable manufacturing process.”

Bonazzi says the company is challenging apparel manufacturers to be more sustainable and restructure their supply chains to divert waste from landfill.

“Our partnership with Speedo USA shows their commitment to the environment with the take-back program, but also their ingenuity in creating products from materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times. They are really helping us close the loop and create a more sustainable manufacturing process.”

In the swimwear industry, postproduction fabric waste has not been suitable for traditional recycling due to its complex technical composition. However, Aquafil says it has developed a technology that can turn swimwear fabric and other blended waste materials into new raw nylon. The Econyl Regeneration System takes manufacturing byproduct waste and nylon materials that have reached the end of their product life—such as abandoned fishing nets and old carpets—and re-engineers them into high-quality Econyl Nylon 6 for the production of new carpets, sportswear and swimwear.

Through what the companies say is their first-ever takeback program, the Econyl regeneration process will be used to separate usable nylon from Speedo’s blended postproduction fabric scraps. The used nylon will then be upcycled into raw nylon fiber that can be made into new PowerFlex Eco swimwear.

Aquafil says that Econyl, which is made from 100 percent upcycled nylon waste materials, is ideal for creating high quality garments that are durable, lightweight, breathable and environmentally friendly. The company says it offers the same quality and performance as traditionally manufactured nylon and can be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss in quality.

According to Speedo, PowerFlex Eco fabric consists of 78 percent Econyl nylon and 22 percent Extra Life Lycra. The resulting fabric retains its shape up to 10 times longer than traditional swimwear fabrics, is resistant to chlorine, sagging and bagging and is offered in styles for both performance and fitness swimmers, Speedo says.

Aquafil was profiled in the May-June 2012 issue of Recycling Today Global edition.