Cleveland — Ascend Performance Materials is finding success in recycled nylon.
Nylon carpet "can be recycled with 100 percent efficiency. It's scalable and ready to meet quality and consistency specs," Maria Field said Nov. 15 at the AMI Plastics World Expos in Cleveland. Field is leader of the Circular Polymers by Ascend product line for Houston-based Ascend.
Ascend has recycled carpet in Lincoln, Calif., since 2018 and acquired a majority stake in the site in late 2022. Those operations cover 150,000 square feet and include two fiber conversion lines and a pellet line.
Field said that deliveries to the plant "are like a Christmas gift. … You never know what's going to be in the truck. It could be nylon carpet or PET or polypropylene."
Ascend then recycles nylon carpet to make its Cerene-brand sustainable nylon, keeping those and other carpets out of landfills. The plant has redirected 85 million pounds of carpet from landfills into new goods in its five years of operation.
Field said that Cerene is a certified post-consumer nylon made from consistent, sustainable feedstocks. Applications for the material include automotive, electric vehicles and other markets.
"The challenge is to find material and whether that material will be economical," she added. "We go through all the steps and deliver a material that's comparable to a virgin product."
At the Fakuma trade show in Germany, Ascend officials said that the firm is ahead of its own sustainability goals. Ascend now aims to have its carbon footprint reduced by 90 percent vs. 2018 levels by 2030. Previously, Ascend's goal was an 80 percent reduction, but it had already reached 68 percent by the end of 2022.
Ascend has spent more than $200 million on sustainability efforts in recent years. Also at Fakuma, the firm debuted its pre-colored, metal-detectable Vydyne-brand nylon 6/6 compounds. The new materials are designed for cable ties and fasteners for industries where foreign object contamination causes health concerns, such as in pharmaceutical and food processing facilities.
Ascend ranks as a global leader in nylon 6/6 resins and compounds. The firm has annual sales of more than $3 billion and is a unit of New York-based investment firm SK Capital Partners.