Is Nylon Fabric Biodegradable And Eco Friendly?

Currently, nylon is undoubtedly one of the most popular fabrics in the fashion world but it is not biodegradable. Therefore, nylon fabric biodegradable and recycled nylon are alternative fabrics that are being used by people. So what exactly is nylon, what are its harmful effects, and are the fabrics that replace it eco-friendly? In this article, Dugarco will help you solve all these questions!

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1. What is nylon fabric?

Nylon is a synthetic fiber or in other words, a man-made fiber, belonging to the group of industrial plastics Polyamide. It is a resin derived from crude oil, created after undergoing intensive chemical processes with strong and elastic fibers. Nylon is the first fabric in the world where all stages of its production take place in a laboratory, but its production process is extremely complex.

It was invented in 1935 by Wallace Carothers – an American chemist working at the chemical manufacturing company DuPont. In the early 30s, he successfully produced nylon in the laboratory, which was never before seen in the textile industry. It was not until 1939 that his invention was announced at the World’s Fair in New York.

is nylon biodegradable
Biodegradable nylon fabric is also known as polyamide fabric

The success of nylon stemmed from its use in the manufacture of women’s socks in the 1940s. However, with the advent of World War II, nylon evolved in a new direction. Nylon has become an ideal material for making military equipment such as ropes, parachutes, flak jackets, etc. Nylon is now commonly used in the fashion industry, used for the production of nylon fabric biodegradable, making swimwear, raincoats, tights, socks, and activewear.

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2. How is nylon fabric made?

Nylon is a plastic that is derived from chemicals such as adipic acid, maleic anhydride containing varying numbers of carbon atoms, and petroleum. To produce nylon, these chemicals are combined through a process known as polycondensation, forming nylon 6,6 (an organic compound). The production process is as follows:

  • Starting with a polyamide monomer extracted from crude oil called diamine acid, manufacturers let it react with adipic acid.
  • Then, heat the crystallizer to form a molten and tie it onto a spinneret. This is a shower-like device that has dozens of tiny holes that harden the substance and separate it into thin fibers.
  • Wrap the resulting strands onto bobbins, where they are stretched to increase their strength and elasticity. This is one of the main characteristics of nylon.
nylon biodegradable
The production process of biodegradable nylon fabric
  • Next, the fibers are wound onto another spool to make the polymer molecules align with a parallel structure.
  • Finally, the nylon fibers are spun into strips of fabric ready to be dyed and turned into any product the manufacturer wants. Or the manufacturer can mix it with other fibers to create mixed textiles.

3. Why is nylon so popular?

For decades, although nylon was not nylon fabric biodegradable, it was still widely used in the production of household items and clothing. Here are a few reasons why nylon is so popular:

  • Nylon material is strong, durable, and more resistant to abrasion than some fabrics.
  • Clothes made from nylon dry faster than natural fabrics like cotton, thanks to their low absorbency and water repellency. It is therefore also suitable for the production of raincoats or umbrellas.
  • Using nylon clothes is convenient because you don’t need to iron them.
is nylon fabric eco friendly
Nylon has been used in the clothing industry for more than 80 years
  • Nylon is a long chain of molecules with the same chemical formula but different arrangements, which gives them stretch and elasticity. So it outlasts other fabrics like cotton or wool and is a great candidate for creating active sportswear.
  • This material absorbs dyes well, it is for this reason that it is often called a bonus of the fashion industry.
  • Nylon fabric is seen by many as a suitable substitute for silk.
  • In addition, the fabric is preferred because it is strong and resistant to fading.


4. Advantages and disadvantages of nylon fabric biodegradable

Here are some of its advantages nylon, and also the reason why nylon fabric is used a lot in clothing:

  • The first and biggest advantage of nylon is its price. The production cost is relatively low, especially compared to the fabric that was originally designed to be a substitute (like silk) so its price is cheaper than other fabrics.
  • Nylon fabric can limit wrinkles and shrinkage.
  • Quick dry.
  • It is relatively easy to care for and wash.
  • Although the nylon fabric is light, it has stable durability.
  • Has insulating properties.
  • Easy to dye.
nylon fabric biodegradable
The advantages and disadvantages of biodegradable nylon fabric

Nylon is the fabric that has revolutionized the world of synthetics and modern necessities. Not only is it an unsustainable fabric, but its disadvantages also outweigh its advantages. Here are a few disadvantages of nylon fabric biodegradable:

  • The ability of this fabric to absorb moisture is poor, not absorbing sweat on your skin. This leaves you feeling sticky and smelly before the activity.
  • Worse than an unpleasant body odor is the fact that you will be directly exposed to some harmful chemicals. Those are the chemicals used to make nylon leggings.
  • Nylon fabric like other synthetic fabrics, sulfuric acid, formaldehyde, and caustic soda are chemicals used in the production of nylon. Not only that, but nylon is sometimes treated with softeners such as limonene, pentene, terpineol, and chloroform.
  • Easy to lead to skin allergies when wearing.
  • Nylon fabric is prone to pilling and static.
  • Sensitive to heat and does not tolerate direct sunlight well.
  • It easily absorbs dyes and oils when washed.

5. What is nylon used for?

Over the years, nylon fabric has continued to thrive in the fashion industry. It is mainly used in the production of women’s stockings and military equipment. In addition, this fabric is also used for gloves, shorts, jackets, shirts, …

More specifically, nylon fabric is also one of the most popular fabrics for making outdoor gear such as tents, hiking boots, and backpacks. Ripstop nylon is a very special type of nylon used for this purpose. It is designed to be sturdy and guaranteed to be airtight to prevent water or wind from entering.

nylon biodegradable
Nylon fabric biodegradable is a very useful fiber for us humans

In addition, this fabric plays an essential role in many other industries. Specifically in the fishing industry, nylon will be used to form fishing lines and nets. It is used to make automotive gears and bearings work in the industrial field. Not only that, it is also highly applicable in the field of arts and crafts, or projects related to jewelry and guitar strings.

6. Impact of nylon fabric on the environment

Let’s analyze the 3 main harms of non biodegradable fabrics:

6.1. Clothing production

Each different nylon fabric will have a different process, including the use of solvents and chemicals to produce the yarn or finished fabric. Additionally, to improve color or texture, other chemicals may be added to the fabric. Depending on the chemicals used, these processes pose different levels of risk to the environment. Chemicals used in the manufacture of clothing include formaldehyde and perchloroethylene, both of which are classified as hazardous.

recycled nylon fabric by the yard
Harmful Effects of Nylon in the clothing manufacturing process

After the production stage, the nylon fabric will be pulled with a water brush. This process can waste large amounts of clean water and lead to water contamination by detergents or other substances that cannot be removed from the water. Finally, the fabric dyeing stage requires the use of a large amount of hot water for washing and rinsing after dyeing. Therefore, we should use recycled fabric or nylon fabric biodegradable to reduce these harmful effects.

6.2. Impacts on people

Manufacturers use chemical compounds such as bleaches, and artificial dyes while producing nylon. And, when the finished product is finished and sold to the consumer, these chemicals may still be present in the product. Humans will experience negative health effects when using these unsafe products.

nylon biodegradable or non-biodegradable
People should use nylon fabric biodegradable because it is safer than pure nylon

The dyes used to make nylon are a major cause of water pollution. When people use this polluted water, it will cause a lot of diseases in the body. In addition, the manufacturing process releases significant amounts of nitrous oxide into the environment. It’s a harmful poison called a greenhouse gas and is 300 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

6.3. Post-consumer impacts

The post-consumer disposal of nylon clothing also hurts the environment. Nylon is non-biodegradable and takes a very long time to decompose completely. When nylon fabric is burned, it releases toxic fumes into the air and pollutes the environment.

how long does nylon take to decompose
Impact after use affects the environment

Microplastics from non biodegradable fabrics can remain in the atmosphere for centuries, and they can also be released when you wash them. What is more concerning is that when microfibers enter the water source, it contaminates the water source. Worse than that, causing countless fish around the world to be affected by consuming them, then ecosystems and the environment are severely affected.


7. Is nylon fabric biodegradable?

The answer to this question is simple: “No, nylon is not biodegradable”. Nylon fabric belongs to man-made plastic because it is petroleum-based and made from other chemicals that are difficult to break down naturally. Meanwhile, other fabrics like hemp and cotton can biodegrade in a few decades or less.

It takes ten to fifty years for a piece of nylon clothing to decompose. As nylon breaks down, it turns into terephthalic acid (TPA). This is a chemical commonly found in plastic bottles, so wearing clothes with nylon material is hazardous to environmental health.

non biodegradable fabrics
Nylon fabric biodegradable is unprecedented

Although nylon cannot biodegrade quickly, it can be recycled. However, the process requires extensive processing and manufacturing before it turns back into polyamide. Today, many natural fabrics are also stronger, more sustainable, and better for the environment. Referring to this, we have to mention nylon fabric biodegradable. The main benefit of this fabric is that it can degrade naturally under certain environmental conditions. So it won’t last in the wild for decades or hundreds of years like the original nylon.

8. Ways to lessen the negative impact of nylon 

While any item or clothing made from nylon fabric biodegradable is bad for the environment, if you already own things made of plastic, you should extend their life as long as possible. This is how to minimize the negative impact and make it the most environmentally friendly. You need to keep your clothes or plastic items from going to landfill too soon. Worse case is it gets washed into the ocean and contaminates it.

nylon fabric biodegradable
Wash at low temperatures and dry nylon clothes to minimize negative effects

Not only that, you need to pay attention to how to properly care for nylon clothes. Always wash them on a low heat and gentle setting, or you can put them in a bag when washing to prevent microplastics from entering the water. And after washing, if possible, you should dry them as this will help the clothes keep their good shape for a long time. Finally, you shouldn’t iron nylon clothes because they run the risk of melting due to heat.

9. Alternatives to nylon

Nylon has many major negative impacts on the environment, and because of this, many people may want to skip this fabric. Instead, we can consider choosing a more environmentally friendly nylon fabric biodegradable version, here are a few alternatives to nylon that you can refer to:

9.1. Recycled nylon fabric

Replacing nylon using recycled nylon fabric is an ideal choice. Recycled nylon is created by renewing scrap nylon fabric, which reduces the amount of nylon that ends up in landfills. The main purpose of this fabric is to rescue discarded fishing nets from the sea and give them a fresh start.

nylon biodegradable
Reduce your environmental impact by using recycled nylon fabric

Recycled nylon fabric is superior to virgin nylon because it uses less raw materials and deflects waste from landfills. However, they are still plastic so they are not biodegradable. We still can’t say recycled nylon is completely eco-friendly. But they reduce more or less negative impacts on the environment compared to nylon.

9.2. Nylon fabric biodegradable

Another solution is nylon fabric biodegradable – a fabric that can degrade naturally under certain environmental conditions. It has two types including:

  • Biodegradable synthetic nylon: We can refer to Amni Soul fabric. It is a polyamide and a synthetic material like nylon, but it is biodegradable and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. The fabric biodegrades in 5 years, it is about 10 times faster. compared to most other synthetic materials.
  • Bio-nylon: This nylon is made without the use of crude oil and is sourced from renewable sources. However, this does not mean that they will be environmentally friendly, as they are still formed from the use of pure resources to create. Although these fabrics are not 100% eco-friendly, they are still better than pure nylon fabrics.
is nylon fabric eco friendly
Nylon fabric biodegradable comes in biodegradable synthetic nylon and bio-based nylon

9.3. Econyl

In addition to nylon fabric biodegradable, econyl is a popular alternative fabric that we can use. Econyl is one form of recycled nylon fabric and it is 100% recyclable. Both pre-and post-consumer wastes are used by the manufacturer to form the econyl fabric. For example, they use fishing nets, old fabrics, scrap fabrics, old carpets, etc. to produce econyl. These materials do not contain any substances harmful to human health.

biodegradable polyester fabric
Econyl fabric belongs to the group of recycled nylon fabrics

10. The future of Nylon

Hopefully, in the future, the use of nylon will improve and instead, people will switch to the trend of using recycled nylon or nylon fabric biodegradable. Because the manufacturing process of nylon is very energy intensive, large amounts of electricity, water, toxic chemicals, and petroleum products are used. Not only that, but the polluted air is also a result of the manufacturing process of this fabric.

nylon fabric biodegradable
Limit the use of virgin nylon and use nylon fabric biodegradable or alternative types of nylon

In recent years, brands such as Swedish Stockings, Eileen Fisher and Aquafil have tended to use recycled nylon in the production of their products. Along with that, researchers are still studying more ways to recycle nylon in the fashion sector that doesn’t come from oil and gas extraction. There are currently few viable substitutes for petroleum monomers and with gasoline prices continuing to fluctuate, also awareness of the climate crisis among people increases. These will lead to the development of alternative nylon fabric alternatives to current nylon components.

Nylon is undeniably a fabric that has several characteristics that make it highly functional. However, by now you must have answered the question: Is nylon fabric biodegradable? Therefore, you should consider when choosing and using fabrics that are not biodegradable and can cause a lot of harm to the environment such as nylon. Please contact Dugarco immediately if you have any questions!

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