ITOCHU and Aquafil announce a Strategic Partnership to support and to expand the nylon circular business

February 12, 2021

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Yoshihisa Suzuki, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) and Aquafil S.p.A. (headquartered in Italy; Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO; hereinafter "Aquafil") announce today their strategic partnership to promote and expand the businesses of circular nylon production (hereinafter the "Partnership"). From the recovery of nylon waste to the development, production and sale of ECONYL® nylon products inspired by their common commitment for a sustainable future.
The global achievement of carbon neutrality is urgently necessary, and the improvement of the recycling rate of petrochemical products is recognized as one of the most important challenges. Nylon is used for textiles and plastic materials made through petrochemistry in a range of fields such as fashion, carpeting, fishing, food packaging, and automobiles. However, many products use nylon blended with other materials in a compound form, making it a difficult material to be recycled.
In 2011 Aquafil created its 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 chemical recycling technology, Aquafil eliminates impurities completely, to achieve regenerated nylon product having the same features of the virgin quality materials.

ECONYL® nylon is made completely from waste, which enables up to 90% CO2 reduction compared to conventional nylon made from petroleum. Focusing on the fashion and carpeting industries, ECONYL® nylon has been adopted as an environmentally friendly material by more than 2,000 brands around the world. In the fashion industry, it has drawn attention and received strong support from major fashion brands including Burberry, Gucci and Prada.

ITOCHU is the world’s largest dealer, in terms of quantity, of CPL and nylon chips, the raw materials of nylon. The utilization of ITOCHU’s nylon value chain corresponded the direction of Aquafil’s ECONYL® business, resulting in the purpose of this Partnership. Moving forward, ITOCHU will leverage on its Group’s diverse network and expand sales for applications in fashion, carpeting, automobiles, and packaging materials. Moreover, ITOCHU plans to enforce Aquafil’s nylon waste recovery scheme using its existing sales chain and will also implement the Partnership from the perspective of the stable supply of raw materials to Aquafil. Through its collaboration from the recovery of waste to the sale of Aquafil’s products, ITOCHU aims to expand the businesses of nylon circularity.
ITOCHU has established that the contribution to SDGs and reinforced measures to achieve them is a basic policy in its next medium-term management plan. Through the further expansion of the circular nylon recycling businesses, ITOCHU and Aquafil will contribute to the advancement of a sustainable recycling-oriented society.