Material Guide: How Sustainable Is ECONYL? - Good On You
29 Sep

Material Guide: How Sustainable Is ECONYL?

Fishing nets have become a huge problem for marine life. Whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and other marine life are being trapped by the nets left behind by fishermen. But with some clever innovations and technology, fashion could be the answer to cleaning up some of these nets and saving the lives of our beautiful marine life.

A number of brands, like surf champion Kelly Slater’s label Outerknown, or Stella McCartney, are now using fishing nets and reclaimed marine debris to make a recycled nylon fabric, ECONYL, that is not only turned into quality garments, but help reduce pressure on the oceans and their inhabitants.

What is ECONYL?

ECONYL, created by Italian firm Aquafil, uses synthetic waste such as industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets from oceans, then recycles and regenerates them into a new nylon yarn that is exactly the same quality as virgin nylon.

This regeneration system focuses on 6 steps that form a closed loop which uses less water and creates less waste than traditional nylon production methods. Waste is collected, then cleaned and shredded, depolymerised to extract nylon, polymerised, transformed into yarn, and then re-commercialised into textile products.

How can it help?

ECONYL is a way to recycle and replace virgin nylon in our everyday products and clothes. Traditional production methods for nylon are not eco-friendly, they require huge amounts of water and produce a hefty amount of nitrous oxide, which is 10 times more potent than carbon dioxide. What’s more, nylon is not biodegradable, and it is estimated that up 40% of man made plastic waste in the oceans are nylon.

The downside

While ECONYL is a fantastic initiative that is helping to clean up our waterways and repurpose trash that would otherwise end up in landfill, sticking around in the environment for hundreds of years before breaking down, there is still one itty bitty issue: microfibres. These tiny plastic particles are released from synthetic fibres, including ECONYL, so you still need to be aware of how to minimise them when using the recycled plastic fabric. From using a wash bag or filter in your washing machine, to only buying ECONYL goods that don’t require regular washing like shoes and swimwear, there are numerous steps you can take to make the most of your ECONYL goods.

The good news is that plenty of Good On You rated brands have jumped on the ECONYL bandwagon:

Mara Hoffman

Rated: Good

With a focus on mindful and conscious practices, Mara Hoffman uses eco-friendly materials including GOTS certified cotton, recycled nylon and recycled polyester, and even has a range of Oeko-Tex STeP certified products. They also have a gorgeous extended sizes collection, so you can be sure to find a new wardrobe addition no matter the bod you rock!

See the rating.

Shop Mara Hoffman @ Reve en Vert.

Shop Mara Hoffman @ Farfetch.


Rated: Good

Barcelona based allSisters is a sexy, sustainable swimwear brand that cares about the earth. The brand uses the highest quality recycled fabrics to create high-end swimsuits and raises money for biodiversity protection non-profit Surfers Against Sewage, tackling plastic pollution. Rock these thoughtful, innovative ethical beachwear designs with pride and prepare to ride the wave of compliments headed your way!

See the rating.

Shop allSisters.


Rated: Good
A woman wears a grey winter coat on one side and a green patterned dress on the other.

Born from the needs of hardy British surfers, Finisterre designs functional and sustainable product for those that share our love of the sea.

See the rating.

Shop Finisterre.

Stella McCartney

Rated: Good

A member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Stella McCartney has set some excellent environmental standards across the luxury fashion industry. Stella uses some eco-friendly materials, including recycled polyester and organic cotton, and has a strategy in place to reduce waste across its entire supply chain. It has also adopted the ETI Code of Conduct that includes a living wage definition!

See the rating.

Shop Stella McCartney @ Farfetch.


Rated: Good

Founded by surf champion Kelly Slater, Outerknown is a sustainable brand that aims to blend style and function with the protection of natural resources. The brand is Bluesign certified and has partnered with the Fair Labour Association.

See the rating.

Shop Outerknown.

Elle Evans

Rated: Great
A woman wears a bright yellow one-piece swimsuit.

Elle Evans produces sustainable swimwear and activewear for women and children, made from post-consumer waste fabrics.

See the rating.

Shop Elle Evans.

In recent news, The University of Miami’s football team, the Hurricanes, will hit the field in their season opener against Louisiana State University in September 2018 wearing uniforms made of 70% ECONYL yarn, by Adidas in partnership with Parley For The Oceans.


Editor's note

This article was updated in August 2018. Feature image via Unsplash, other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 2,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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