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Collaboration produces plant-based nylon-6

EcoNote | July 25, 2022 | By:

San Diego-based biotechnology company Genomatica, with its collaborator Aquafil, has successfully completed the first demonstration scale production runs for plant-based nylon-6. Aquafil is a major producer of nylon in Italy and worldwide. The new material is intended to contribute to reshaping the $22 billion nylon industry, enabling brands to meet demand from consumers for sustainable materials from apparel to automotive parts to carpets. 

Geno and Aquafil have produced the first several tons of plant-based nylon-6 building block caprolactam, have converted it to nylon-6 polymer, and are now in the process of transforming it for evaluation in nylon applications. The companies expect that the material will go to leading global brands and their value chain partners interested in developing renewable products.

“Now, more than ever, global brands are taking action to incorporate sustainable materials into their products,” said Christophe Schilling, Geno CEO. “We’re working to build purposeful, traceable and transparent supply chains, in this case for nylon-6, with the goal to provide more sustainable products that consumers demand and material solutions that can help brands achieve their ESG goals.”

“Plant-based nylon can perfectly complement our approach to depolymerizing nylon products once they reach the end of their useful life, said Giulio Bonazzi, Aquafil CEO. “Together, we share a vision to lead the transition to more sustainable materials which has driven our long-term collaboration.”

Plant-based nylon-6 is Geno’s third major product line on a path to commercialization. The company has executed high impact deals with a range of brands to accelerate the global commercialization of sustainable materials, with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 million tons in upcoming years. 

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