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Aquafil, Speedo USA Launch World's First Fabric Take-Back Program for Swimwear Industry

Speedo USA's new PowerFLEX Eco fabric is comprised of 78 percent ECONYL nylon and 22 percent Extra Life LYCRA® | Image credit: Speedo USA

Just weeks after partnering with surfer Kelly Slater on his new men’s apparel line, Outerknown, upcyled fiber supplier Aquafil today announced it has partnered with Speedo USA on a take-back program that will allow Speedo’s post-manufacturing swimwear scraps to be upcycled into Aquafil’s 100 percent regenerated ECONYL® nylon. The take-back program gives new life to leftover fabric scraps, which would otherwise end up in landfills, and allows them to be turned back into raw nylon fiber and eventually new swimsuits.

Launching this week, the new Speedo PowerFLEX Eco swimwear fabric is made from 78 percent ECONYL and is endlessly recyclable, creating a closed-loop manufacturing partnership between the two companies.

“We are challenging apparel manufacturers to be more sustainable and restructure their supply chain to divert waste from landfill,” said Giulio Bonazzi, chairman and CEO of Aquafil, which specializes in the production of Nylon 6 from upcycled fishing nets. “Our partnership with Speedo USA shows their commitment to the environment with the take-back program, but also their ingenuity in creating products from materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times. They are really helping us close the loop and create a more sustainable manufacturing process.”

In the swimwear industry, post-production fabric waste has not been suitable for traditional recycling due to its complex technical composition. However, Aquafil has developed a groundbreaking technology that can turn swimwear fabric and other blended waste materials into new raw nylon. The ECONYL Regeneration System takes manufacturing byproduct waste and nylon materials that have reached the end of their product life — such as abandoned fishing nets and old carpets — and re-engineers them into high-quality ECONYL Nylon 6 for the production of new carpets, sportswear and swimwear.

Now, through a first-ever take-back program for both Aquafil and Speedo USA, the ECONYL regeneration process will be used to separate usable nylon from Speedo’s blended post-production fabric scraps. The used nylon will then be upcycled into raw nylon fiber that can be made into new PowerFLEX Eco swimwear.

Made from 100 percent upcycled nylon waste materials, ECONYL is ideal for creating high-quality garments that are durable, lightweight, breathable and environmentally friendly. ECONYL offers the same quality and performance as traditionally manufactured nylon and can be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss in quality.

Benefitting both the environment and swimmers, PowerFLEX Eco fabric is comprised of 78 percent ECONYL nylon and 22 percent Extra Life LYCRA®. Speedo USA says the resulting fabric retains its shape up to 10 times longer than traditional swimwear fabrics, is resistant to chlorine, sagging and bagging and is offered in styles designed for both performance and fitness swimmers.

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