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What is Recycled Nylon and can it Help in Saving Ocean?

Nylon is one of the most durable polymers we encounter in our daily lives. Nylon is a super-lightweight fabric that provides strength. Nylon, on the other hand, is a petroleum-based polymer that has high energy and greenhouse gas manufacturing costs. Using recycled nylon as much as possible reduces our reliance on virgin petroleum as a raw material supply, reduces waste, and reduces manufacturing-related greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of ending up in landfills, recycled nylon supports the formation of new recycling streams for nylon products that are no longer functional.

What is recycled nylon?

Every year, around 8 billion barrels of oil are used to make synthetic materials like nylon and polyester, which end up in landfills and take decades to degrade. Reusing what we already have is the most natural and exciting next step. Creating a genuinely circular, restorative system by transforming ‘waste’ materials into something more exquisite. It raises the bar for recycled materials by turning trash into a resource. New nylon yarn that has been recycled and regenerated is of the same high grade as virgin nylon yarn.

Why is recycled nylon good for oceans?

The oceans are vital to our survival. They cover 72 per cent of the world, provide 70% of the oxygen we breathe, hold 97 per cent of the earth’s water, and store 30% of carbon emissions. Our seas, on the other hand, are in danger. Around 8 million metric tons of plastic garbage enter our seas each year. Every year, more than 600,000 tonnes of fishing gear, including nylon nets, are discarded into oceans, according to the World Society for the Protection of Animals. The alternative to hiring someone to properly dispose of the nets is for fishermen to dump them. Nylon is used in more than simply fishing nets. Clothing, carpets, and packaging all contain it. This is a serious threat not just to marine life, but also to human health. By 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish if current trends continue. We are aiming to transition all of our present nylon to regenerated nylon for a variety of reasons, including the seas.

How is recycled nylon different from virgin nylon?

The qualities and advantages of recycled nylon and recycled polyester are the same. According to Aquafil, which produces recycled and certified nylon under the trademark ECONYL, recycling nylon uses much fewer resources in terms of water, energy, and fossil fuels than virgin nylon. In contrast to the production of virgin nylon, the recycling process uses 50% less energy and generates 50% less CO2. This demonstrates how greenhouse gas emissions from the production process may be decreased by utilising recycled nylon. In terms of production costs, recycled nylon is more expensive than virgin nylon. When recycled nylon is converted into yarns, the fabric created retains all of the properties of nylon, i.e. it regains its original quality. Wicking, breathable, and quick-drying are some of these characteristics. However, recycled nylon has a significant disadvantage over virgin nylon. Microplastics may be released into the water during the laundry of recycled nylon clothes. These microplastics might wind up in the ocean, posing a threat to aquatic life and the ecosystem. Garments constructed of recycled textiles have particular wash care recommendations to prevent microplastics from leaking into the laundry water.

What are the challenges in the recycling of nylon?

However, the economics of recycling nylon is not particularly tempting. He claims that nylon is a difficult and expensive material to recycle. Furthermore, polymers, or plastics, are inexpensive to purchase fresh, which may explain why many corporations choose to utilise polyethene terephthalate (PET), the most prevalent form of plastic used in soda and water bottles. Another issue is contamination. Because nylon is melted at a lower temperature than metals and glass, impurities such as non-recyclable materials and microorganisms or bacteria can survive. This is why all nylons must be carefully cleaned before being recycled. It’s a lot tougher to clean a fishing net that’s been pulled through a boat, on the ocean floor, or anywhere else.

How is nylon recycled?

Recycled nylon is often created from pre-consumer fabric waste, but it can also originate from post-consumer sources like industrial fishing nets. The Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), and SCS Recycled Content are all “chain of custody” standards that monitor recycled nylon through the supply chain. Econyl, the first post-consumer recycled nylon on the market from Italian firm Aquafil, is probably the most well-known regenerated nylon product. Econyl is indefinitely recyclable and manufactured from nylon waste from landfills and seas in a closed-loop process. Instead of petroleum, bio-based nylon employs renewable feedstocks such as Fulgar’s Evo, which is created entirely of castor oil. Independently verified sustainability standards for bio-based products are developing, providing much-needed advice to the industry on the long-term viability of renewable feedstocks.

Is recycled nylon toxic?

Polyester or nylon are the most common polymers used in recycled garments. They can be made from pre-or post-consumer trash and recycled. Pre-consumer trash is production waste that is recycled on a large scale, whereas post-consumer waste is consumer garbage such as beverage bottles. Nylon is also typically regarded as a non-toxic and nontoxic material. It contains no known endocrine disruptors like BPA or BPS. When nylon is recycled, pollutants, including PET, might infiltrate the supply chain. The danger is limited since it would degrade the quality of the raw material, thus producers avoid it. When viewed as separate materials, the current consensus is that both recycled PET and recycled nylon are safe to wear. Contaminants can infiltrate the supply chain in a variety of ways, including different polymers, chemical dyes, and treatments.

What are the advantages of recycled nylon?

The recycled yarn is manufactured from waste goods that would otherwise damage our seas and landfills. As a result, recycling nylon is the most effective technique to achieve circularity and reduce new products’ environmental impact. Initiatives like project EFFECTIVE strive to discover plastic alternatives to overcome nylon’s inherent problems. Nylon is an excellent choice for biomaterial replacement. When these two breakthroughs (recycling and biomaterials) are combined, they give viable solutions to the nylon industry’s difficulties and open the way to new environmentally friendly goods.

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