ITOCHU Announces Market Deployment of Environmentally Friendly Zippers and Buttons Made of Recycled Nylon

Promotion of the Shift to Mono-material Products in the Fashion Industry

February 22, 2022

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”), YKK Italy S.p.A. (headquartered in Milan; Hitoshi Yamaguchi, President; the sister Company of YKK Group; hereinafter “YKK”), the Italian base of YKK Corporation, which is a global leader in the manufacturing and sale of zippers, and Aquafil S.p.A. (headquartered in Italy; Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO; hereinafter “Aquafil”) are jointly developing environmentally friendly recycled zippers and recycled buttons made of ECONYL® nylon manufactured by Aquafil. Sales will begin mainly in the European fashion brand markets from March 2022 onward targeted at items in the 2023 Spring/Summer season.

ITOCHU announced the partnership with Aquafil, a developer of the ECONYL® brand of recycled nylon, to expand the circular nylon recycling businesses in February 2021 and have been working on the recovery of nylon waste, the expansion of sales and the development of final products.*1

Due to the currently increasing environmental awareness, demand has been growing for recycled raw materials every year in the fashion industry and major fashion houses have been using ECONYL® material as fabric for clothes, bags and other items. However, existing fashion products are made of several different materials, which makes it difficult to separate materials and recycle them separately. This poses a serious problem in recycling. Against this backdrop, the mono-material concept is drawing attention. A mono-material product is composed of only a single type of material on the assumption that it will be recycled, with the goal of increasing the recycling rate. Using materials including zippers, buttons and other subcomponents that are all made of the same material is an important factor in realizing the shift to mono-material products in the fashion industry.

The three companies, ITOCHU, YKK and Aquafil, agreed to develop zippers, buttons and other subcomponents used in fashion products using ECONYL® nylon as the raw material and will launch NATULON® made with ECONYL® as a part of YKK's environmentally friendly line. NATULON® made with ECONYL® nylon enables products to be recyclable while maintaining product design and quality. It is expected to contribute greatly to the shift to mono-material products and the implementation of circular recycling in the fashion industry. The product will first be produced by YKK Italy and launched mainly in Europe.

ITOCHU aims to expand nylon recycle business by engaging in the stable supply of ECONYL® material to YKK, the promotion of YKK products, the collection of nylon waste and other measures.
Through the expansion of recycled nylon businesses, ITOCHU will continue contributing to the advancement of a sustainable recycling-oriented society.

© 2021 YKK Europe Limited - Photo Keisuke Otobe