Material Guide: How Sustainable Is ECONYL?

By September 29, 2015Material Guides

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 fabric, ECONYL, that is not only turned into quality garments, but help reduce pressure on the oceans and their inhabitants.

What is ECONYL?

The ECONYL, created by Italian firm Aquafil, uses synthetic waste such as industrial plastic, waste fabric and fishing nets from oceans, 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 and 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.

Looking for ethical fashion? Find it in the Good On You app!

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

Mara Hoffman

Carla Bikini Top | | Ships internationally

Mara Hoffman is a lifestyle women’s brand offering designer clothing, swimwear, bridal, activewear and childrenswear, with a focus on mindful and conscious practices.


Carinae Bottom Bathing Suit | | Ships internationally

Barcelona-based allSisters designs eco-friendly swimwear using the highest quality recycled fabrics to create high-end swimsuits.


True North Arena Swimsuit | | Ships internationally

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

Stella McCartney

Falabella GO Oversized Tote | | Ships internationally

Luxury British designer and long-time vegetarian Stella McCartney creates modern and trendy pieces that respect the environment, the people and animals.


Evolution Volley | | Ships Internationally

Founded by Kelly Slater, Outerknown is a sustainable menswear brand that aims to blend style and function with the preservation of natural resources.

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.

Download the app!

Trusted ethical ratings in the palm of your hand.



Editor’s notes: this article was updated in August 2018. Featured image by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash, photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash, other images via brands mentioned.

Darcie Carruthers

Author Darcie Carruthers

Darcie is a writer, researcher and editor with a masters degree in journalism and media. She is an English language teacher who has an almost obsessive passion for conscious consumerism.

More posts by Darcie Carruthers

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Wendy Hughes says:

    Is econyl biodegradable? Or just like it’s parent nylon… a massive contributor to landfill?

    • says:

      At the very least the inputs to the product (post consumer nylon waste like fishing nets and stockings) have avoided landfil or the oceans, so you will have got at least one extra cycle out of the materials that went into the plastic. Econyl can be recycled again – although whether that happens depends on collection systems being in place at least. So it’s a step forward but more to do.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.