Introduction to recycled nylon

Nylon fibres are derived from petroleum like polyester. Nylon, or polyamide, is commonly used to make clothing, bags, and tights, but also tents, ropes, carpets and fishing nets. Two main types are used for these different applications: PA6 and PA6.6, and both are being used in clothing.

In comparison to polyester, nylon is more difficult to recycle, and attention must be brought to separate the two different types of nylon. Used nylon clothes cannot yet be recycled as their level of contamination is too high, due to the blending of fibres and chemicals added to fabrics and clothes. However, other types of used nylon can be recycled using a chemical process to produce suitable recycled nylon for clothing applications.

Recycled nylon is principally made from post-industrial waste (e.g. from the virgin nylon yarn production process, or carpet offcuts), but also from post-consumer waste (used carpets, discarded and ghost fishing nets). This open loop chemical recycling allows for supply chain waste reduction, lower dependence on non-renewable petroleum resources and, with post-consumer nylon waste, for pollution minimisation.