How does Nylon fair environmentally and socially as a material?

Nylon (or polyamide) fibres are based on a petrochemical feedstock. There are several forms of nylon, in general terms chemicals are combined to form a polyamide salt. The molecules of the two chemicals react under high pressure and heat. The polymer is then extracted and cooled with water.

While details of the production sequence for nylon fibres are well documented, information or analysis of the environmental impacts appear to be extremely limited. That is with the exception of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from nylon production, which from a single UK site have a global warming impact equivalent to more than 3% of the UK's entire carbon dioxide emissions. (Source: Kate Fletcher, 1999 www.demi.org.uk)