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Can Sustainable Materials Compete With Virgin Material?

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Can Sustainable Materials Compete With Virgin Material?

Aquafil has developed an innovative process that recovers nylon waste and transforms it into a regenerated nylon that performs on par with virgin raw material and enables projects to deliver on sustainability goals.

By Aquafil | August 17, 2020

The design industry has long been pervaded by the idea that sustainable materials are “not enough”—not flexible or durable enough, not creative enough, not inexpensive enough to justify their use.

These outdated notions have prevented industry professionals from taking advantage of new advances and products. Innovations like ECONYL® regenerated nylon have proven that materials made from waste can perform on par with virgin materials, all without sacrificing form or function.


Masland Contract Taps into ECONYL® regenerated nylon to create their contemporary carpet tile line, “Crafted”


Count on Performance


When it comes to choosing between material made from waste and virgin raw material, performance level is often debated. But it’s a problem that doesn’t exist anymore. The development of new technologies and manufacturing processes has given way to sustainable materials that can have the same performance level as virgin material. 

Floors covered by carpet made from ECONYL® regenerated nylon fibers have the same performance as virgin nylon carpet. 

What makes these floors durable and long-lasting? It goes back to the ECONYL® Regeneration System, which transforms nylon waste into brand new nylon yarn. This process, called depolymerization, breaks nylon waste down into its chemical building blocks and then forms new nylon polymers which are spun into nylon yarn.


The latest commercial collection by Venture Contract is made with ECONYL®


Unleash Creativity 


Performance is just one part of the puzzle. Aesthetics are also a key consideration when it comes to choosing materials, and despite outdated misconceptions, sustainable materials don’t limit creativity or prevent beautiful results.

ECONYL® yarn is available in 170 colors, all of which allow customers to maintain color consistency in their performance-driven carpets, rugs, and carpet tiles. This diverse set of options allows for beautiful results and a range of different styles.


Reduce Waste and Fight Climate Change


Did you know that 4 billion pounds of carpet is discarded in landfills each year in the U.S.? Only 5 percent of this carpet waste is recycled. 

The numbers are no surprise—flooring and carpets are some of the most frequently replaced parts of commercial buildings. 

Through its two recycling facilities in Woodland, California, and Phoenix, Arizona, Aquafil is dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of carpet waste. Each facility has the capacity to collect and recycle 36 million pounds of carpet each year, which translates to 25,000 square yards of carpet diverted from landfills each day.

Beyond its recycling efforts, Aquafil has found resourceful ways to recover nylon waste by engaging in various global environmental and social programs, such as the Healthy Seas Initiative. 

Through this, Aquafil spreads awareness of ocean conservation issues and protects marine life through the recovery of abandoned fishing nets, which are responsible for millions of deaths of marine animals each year.

This recovered nylon waste is transformed into new yarn, which has the same characteristics as nylon made of virgin raw material, while also having a notable environmental impact: ECONYL® regenerated nylon reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90% compared with material made from oil.

ECONYL® also contributes to LEED v.4 credits in four categories, helping you achieve your sustainability goals. Those four categories include integrative process, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, and innovation. 


The noho move™ chair is made from upcycled waste plastic.noho tapped into ECONYL® nylon for its sustainable and regenerative qualities to reimagine conventional furniture design.


Be Versatile


Prioritizing sustainable materials is more crucial than ever before, and architects and interior designers are in a unique position to reshape the industry and help our planet—all without restricting creativity and function. 

The benefits of sustainable materials extend across a variety of applications. Along with carpet, ECONYL® yarn can be used in the fashion industry through products like sportswear, swimwear, and bags.

This regenerated nylon can also be used in furniture made with injection moulding. For sustainable furniture company noho, focusing on recyclable materials has led to the noho move™ chair, which is made from upcycled waste plastic.


Look Ahead


The push toward an increasingly sustainable society doesn’t present a challenge but rather a chance to innovate. While using recycled materials that are currently available is an important first step to take, it’s also paramount to design new products that in the future will be easier to recycle and designed to be disassembled into their components. 

A material like ECONYL®, for example, is regenerable an infinite number of times. That means you can create new products and buy new products without ever having to use new resources.

Pioneering these new products now helps preserve our planet and ensures a brighter, better future for generations to come.

Find sustainable carpet designs that use ECONYL(R) for your projects:

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