Toray, Patagonia Mark A Garment-Recycling First

Toray Industries will jointly implement chemical recycling of nylon6 in garments with Patagonia International.

ATLANTA — Toray Industries will jointly implement chemical recycling of nylon6 in garments with Patagonia International, making the two companies the first to initiate a closed loop nylon6 recycling process.

Calling it a “landmark decision,” Toray said it and Patagonia intend to start recycling with the 2008 spring-summer collection of surf pants and extend those efforts to cover the fall-winter 2008 collection of hard-shell jackets for alpine climbing. The products will be sold through 2,000 retail stores in 12 countries around the world.

Under Patagonia’s Common Threads Garment Recycling Program, launched in 2005, customers can return products they no longer need to a Patagonia store in exchange for a sticker. Those products will be restored to their raw material form, caprolactam, at Toray’s facilities and then reused in the manufacturing process of nylon6, which can then be used in various applications.

Reuse of nylon6 using chemical recycling, Toray said, results in a 70 percent reduction in energy consumed for production and also in lower carbon dioxide emissions, compared with the regular petroleum-based nylon6. The endeavor is expected to yield significant returns in energy savings, Toray said.

The move is part of Toray’s Ecodream comprehensive brand for its environmental conservation activities and environmentally friendly products. Toray has targeted its Ecodream project to double group sales of environmentally friendly products to about $3 billion by fiscal year 2010 from $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2006.

Under a basic policy of “less energy” and “total recycle,” Toray has been actively expanding its fabric recycling activities targeting nylon, polyester and acrylic products, primarily in collaboration with its customers.