Interview with Project Coordinator Edi Kraus, General Manager of AquafilSLO,

For many years, Edi Kraus has been serving as the captain of AquafilSLO, managing to position the company as a strong and innovative player on the global market for carpets. With project EFFECTIVE, coordinated by Mr. Kraus and his team, AquafilSLO is looking towards a new era of fibers and plastics. We could think of one better to share his thoughts about the project and the future of the industry. 

1. Why did Aquafil decide to embrace bio-based materials as inputs for your products?

After demonstrating the ECONYL® regeneration system as a solution for the infinite recycling of nylon 6 from waste, we decided to move a further step forward in our journey towards increasing the sustainability of the nylon 6 value chain: to decouple the production of such an important polymer from oil resources and develop a new route for the production of the first ever bio-based nylon 6. This innovative process foresees the production of caprolactam – the monomer for the synthesis of nylon 6 – from renewable and sustainable feedstock rather than from fossil fuels. This journey has begun with our strategic partnership with Genomatica, and now it is evolving in project EFFECTIVE.

2. What do you expect to gain from EFFECTIVE?

We believe that EFFECTIVE can represent a virtuous example of a sustainable and circular bio-economy model, where materials are manufactured from renewable resources, and where no waste is generated at the end of the useful life of the products. To make it happen, a joint effort of different players was and is still required. That’s why the EFFECTIVE community is not limited only to the consortium’s partners, who cover all the steps of the value chain – from feedstock producers up to important brands – but also includes a wide range of external stakeholders who have committed to supporting the project and facilitating the future replication of the solutions we are demonstrating.

The size and variety of the interest that our project has attracted leads us to expect that these new materials will not be a value proposition attractive only for special or niche applications, but could represent a concrete opportunity for the whole plastics industry.

3. How can the project benefit different industries in Europe?

Their bio-based origin and sustainability – both in terms of processes and end of life of the materials – will be the driving force for the application of the EFFECTIVE materials (both polyamides and polyesters) in several market sectors. Indeed, although in the project we are going to target five key markets – textiles, construction, the automotive industry, and primary and secondary packaging – the replicability potential of the EFFECTIVE biomaterials in different sectors is much larger. As a consequence, a wide range of industries can benefit from the development of such innovative bio-based materials, making the nylon and polyesters’ value chains more sustainable and reinforcing the position of the EU as a global leader in biomaterials.