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Prada shows how to tackle plastic waste with style

UK actress Bonnie Wright (Harry Potter series) promoting Prada's eco-bags

Italian firm Aquafil has partnered-up with couture designer Prada to prove recycled plastics and fashion go hand in hand.

Prada’s recycled plastic bags will be marketed under the name Re-Nylon. They are made from a material called ECONYL, sourced largely from ocean plastics. The recycled fibre is described as a ‘regenerated-nylon yarn that can be recycled an indefinite number of times without affecting the quality of the material’. Aquafil says that, for every 10 000 tons of ECONYL created, it saves 70 000 barrels of petroleum.

The three steps

  • Gathering of waste materials: fishing nets, discarded nylon, carpet and industrial waste are sorted and cleaned to maximise the quantity of recuperated nylon.
  • Regeneration and purification: through a chemical de-polymerisation procedure, the nylon waste is recycled right back to its original purity.
  • At production plants in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Arco (Italy), the recycled materials is re-transformed into polymers and threads through a new polymerisation process. 

Less than 3% of the 1.6 million tons of carpet discarded in the US each year is recycled, Aquafil reports. That’s why it set up a dedicated carpet recycling plant in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2017. The facility can process 16 000 tonnes of material per year.  The recovered nylon is integrated into Prada’s new line.

No more virgin nylon

‘I’m very excited to announce the launch of the Prada Re-Nylon collection. Our ultimate goal will be to convert all Prada virgin nylon into Re-Nylon by the end of 2021,’ says Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group head of marketing and communication. ‘This project highlights our continued efforts towards promoting a responsible business,’ she adds. ‘This collection will allow us to make our contribution and create products without using new resources.’

Bertelli states that a percentage of proceeds from the sale of every Prada Re-Nylon bag will be donated to a project related to environmental sustainability.

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