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AQUAFIL: the ECONYL® Regeneration System or how to produce Nylon 6 from 100% regenerated waste materials

4. Environment

Green design


Since 1969, Aquafil has been one of the leading players, both in Italy and globally, in the production of Polyamide 6. With 15 production plants in 8 countries on 3 continents, Aquafil employs 2,400 people and  recorded an EBITDA of €53 million and a turnover of €472.1 million in 2013. Its mission is to be the leader in the production of synthetic fibers by concentrating resources, ideas and investments on excellence with the focus of environmental, social and corporate sustainability.

The Group operates through two product business units:
•    BCF: production of filaments for textile floorings
•    NTF: synthetic fibers used in the apparel and sports industries

The Energy and Recycling business unit launched in 2008 to take real measures to protect the environment. This division supports all Group manufacturing units in order to promote sustainability principles, energy saving and the use of recycled materials. In 2011, the Energy and Recycling business unit launched the ECONYL® project to produce nylon yarn from regenerated waste materials


Company objectives :

  •  To reduce the impact of production activities on the environment.
  •  To create an ecological product and supply it to customers to produce more sustainable final products (carpets and garments)

Social responsibility :

  •  To recover PA6 waste material that would otherwise remain abandoned in landfills or nature.
  •  To save raw fossil material (caprolactam) coming from nonrenewable resources that is normally used for the production of virgin Nylon.
  •  To establish partnerships with institutions, public and private consortia and customers to act concretely in a sustainable way and create future products that are more easily recyclable.


The ECONYL® Regeneration System is an industrial system created by the Aquafil Group in 2011. This process turns waste into first-grade Nylon 6.

The raw material used in this production system comes from two sources:

  •  Post-consumer waste: end-of-life products made from Polyamide 6 such as fishing nets, carpet fluff (the top of carpets and rugs) and rigid textiles
  •  Pre-consumer waste: oligomers, scraps and other plastic components  generated from the production of Nylon 6.

ECONYL® yarn is made from 100% regenerated materials with a guaranteed minimum of 50% of post-consumer waste. (2014)
A project of this magnitude required the development of new technologies, supply chains and partnerships. Four years of research and development and more than 20 million euro were invested by Aquafil in the construction of the ECONYL® plant in Ljubljana, Slovenia. 

Great effort was also dedicated to the development of a network for global waste collection and of partners for the collection of waste all around the world as well as an efficient logistical plan to enable the transportation of waste materials to the Slovenian plant.

The ECONYL® Regeneration System is based on sustainable chemistry, which allows PA6 waste products (carpet fluff, fishing nets, etc.) to be endlessly regenerated without loss of quality. The regenerated Nylon 6 yarn is used in final products such as garments and synthetic carpet flooring.

Best Practice spotted in 2014 by the World Forum for a Responsible Economy.


The return for such big transition - from linear to circular - cannot be calculated in traditional ways. Initial return on investment was seen faster than anticipated and more rewarding than expected, but cannot be measured by traditional mark up on ECONYL® products.

Besides the direct payback, all efforts surrounding the ECONYL® project resulted in a number of joint communication and marketing initiatives. These initiatives, though designed to create corporate and product value, created additional awareness for a variety of environmental issues and produced a number of more responsible manufacturing and operating procedures.


  •  Between 2011 and 2013, Aquafil removed more than 30,000 tons of waste from the environment.
  •  Based on Q1 performance, approximately 26,000 tons of pre- and post-consumer waste were collected in 2014.
  •  At least 13,000 tons of post-consumer waste was reclaimed in 2014.  
  •  In 2014 we produced 20,000 tons of regenerated caprolactam to be transformed into yarn.
  •  In 2014 ECONYL® products contained a minimum of 50% post-consumer content, increasing from 30% in 2012.
472,1 M€


Via Linfano, 9
38062 Arco


Giulio Bonazzi, Fondateur

Mise à jour le 30/05/2016

Creative Commons Attribution This work by Réseau Alliances – World Forum Lille is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.