The Japanese trading company Itochu and the Italian chemical firm Aquafil have entered a partnership to promote and expand the businesses of circular nylon production.

In 2011, Aquafil created the Econyl Regeneration System that turns recovered nylon waste such as fishing nets, carpets and post-industrial waste back to caprolactam (CPL), a crude raw material. Through its proprietary recycling technology, Aquafil claims to eliminate impurities completely and produce regenerated nylon having the same features as virgin quality materials.

Econyl is made completely from waste, which enables an up to 90 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to conventional nylon made from petroleum. Focusing on the fashion and carpeting industries, Econyl has been adopted by more than 2,000 brands around the world. In the fashion industry, it received “strong support” from major fashion brands including Burberry, Gucci and Prada.

Last year, Safilo announced the use of Econyl, being the first to introduce it in the eyewear industry. At the time, it said that the recycled nylon would be used for models in the Tommy Jeans collection, that had been recently launched by Tommy Hilfiger, one of the eyewear company’s licensed brands. Safilo planned to gradually use Econyl in other collections to reduce its carbon footprint. 

Itochu is the world’s largest dealer, in terms of quantity, of CPL and nylon chips, the raw materials of nylon. It plans to leverage on its network to expand sales of Econyl as well as collaborate in the recovery of waste to provide a stable supply of raw materials to Aquafil.

According to Nikkei Asia, Itochu is targeting sales of around 2 billion yen (€15.7m-$19.1m) for Econyl in the first year.