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Xinhua Silk Road
CLASS

Circular economy is boosting Aquafil production in China

May 01, 2020


Abstract : The group from Trentino led by Giulio Bonazzi, which recorded a €550 million turnover in 2019, is active in the production of synthetic yarns, nylon 6, with recycled raw materials from carpets, nets for fish farming and other materials.

MILAN, Apr. 28 (Class Editori) - They have experienced earlier all the problems related to the coronavirus emergency, in the country where everything started: in China. A training ground which turned out to be useful here in Italy, but also worldwide. 

“Coronavirus did not have any impact on our production, also thanks to the sensibility gained thanks to our experience in China, which has immediately changed our attentions related to remote working, social distancing, use of personal protective equipment and other measures, in all the sites in which we are active”, Giulio Bonazzi, chairman and CEO of Aquafil has explained; they are active in the production chain of nylon 6, with a particular focus on the production of yarns for carpets and synthetic yarns for clothes, also sportswear; in this context, they collaborate also with the most important brands of the sector. 

“I believe it has emphasized an aspect: circular economy and sustainability are the key conditions to survive in the medium and long term”, the businessman has underlined; “also for this reason, we have planned and we are planning long-term investments: our goal will be to produce nylon from renewable sources, namely producing the nylon 6 particle not from oil but from nylon 6 itself, and then endlessly recycling it. This would be the solution for a range of products, therefore preserving the natural resources of our planet”. 

The group, founded in 1965 in Arco, near Trento, closed 2019 with revenues amounting at €549 million (little below the threshold of 555 million turnover recorded in 2018, -1.1%) and an EBITDA of 69.4 million. Leading group in the circular economy and in the technology applied to it, Aquafil is listed on the STAR segment of Borsa Italiana, it employs about 2,800 employees and is present in three continents, namely Europe, America and Asia, through 16 production sites, among which the Chinese one based in Jiaxing; it was blocked until February 9, and then the activities there restarted with strict measures and controls. 

“We have always been a company which has greatly invested in Research&Development, even in collaboration with our customers, with the aim of creating ad hoc developed products and maximizing results”, Bonazzi has explained. “Still today, we are the only company to carry out the recondition of nylon 6 on industrial scale: unlike other plastics, thanks to a non-mechanical specific process, it may be endlessly recycled, by keeping its characteristics intact. We have started with this plant in 2011, we were the leaders worldwide and today we are still enjoying the outcomes of that intuition”.

The intuition, with five-year R&S and a €25 billion investment, has resulted in Econyl, a brand which includes reconditioned products, the result of the re-transformation of pre-consumer generated waste (during the nylon 6 production phases) or post-consumer one (aquaculture or recovered networks, the upper parts of carpet), which today accounts for 37.5% of the total fibre sales of the company from Trentino (+3.2% in absolute value compared to 2018). 

Aquafil customer base is mainly divided in two parts: on the one side, American, Australian, New-Zealand or from North Europe large companies, committed in carpet and flooring sector; on the other side, the fashion companies, luxury customers such as Prada, Gucci, Adidas and small particular and cutting-edge brands. 

“We will continue with our transforming policy in order to confirm ourselves as winners of sustainability and circular economy” as Bonazzi has added; “to follow the line of this philosophy, the listing on the Stock Exchange has played an important role: we have collected about €50 million used in different investments, both for the increase of the production activity and for some acquisitions improved in 2018-2019. This has been a step which has allowed and will allow us to keep on growing”.

A growth, which during the course of the year 2019, has recorded excellent results in the USA market. “The growth has been brilliant despite the General Motors’ strike of the fourth quarter. The increase in the American production capacity will allow us to not import yarns anymore, generating a saving of about €2.5 million in 2020, as well as to provide full support to the growth expected for the next three years”, he explained.

“Small and long-term targets? In our projections, after two years of strong investments, 2020 represented a year of conclusion and management. However, in order to change, I believe that the world may need three elements: appropriate legislation, people education and a different way of designing a product, in which its end is also planned. This vision, adopted in Aquafil, has allowed us to go very far”. (All rights reserved)

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