As the fashion industry moves towards more sustainable and eco-friendly practices, the use of natural and semi-synthetic fabrics has become increasingly popular. Viscose, a semi-synthetic fabric made from cellulose fibers, has been a popular choice due to its affordability and versatility. However, the production process of conventional viscose has been criticized for its negative environmental impact. In recent years, newer semi-synthetic fibers such as modal and lyocell have emerged as more sustainable alternatives. This section will explore the eco-friendliness of modal, lyocell, and bamboo viscose fabric.

Is modal rayon/viscose eco-friendly?

Modal fabric is a type of viscose that is considered a “second-generation” cellulosic fiber. Although the production process of generic modal rayon uses the same methods and chemicals as conventional viscose, the Austrian company Lenzing produces its modal through a closed-loop process. This process captures and recycles the majority of chemicals and water used in the process, significantly reducing harmful environmental discharge and toxic waste. As a result, Lenzing Modal offers an 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions compared to the traditional conventional viscose production process. However, Lenzing Modal is only ranked D in the Made-By Environmental Benchmark for Fibres, putting it in the middle rating category alongside virgin synthetic fibers.

Is lyocell viscose eco-friendly?

Lyocell fabric is the third generation of cellulosic fibers and is considered the most sustainable type of viscose. TENCEL™ lyocell, made by Lenzing, is in class B of the Made-By Environmental Benchmark for Fibres, two classes ahead of modal and three classes ahead of bamboo and generic viscose. The production process of TENCEL™ lyocell uses a closed-loop process that recycles almost all (upwards of 95%) the water and chemicals used in the process. Additionally, sodium hydroxide is replaced with an organic solvent, making the production process even more sustainable. Innovative cellulosic fibers made from everyday items such as milk, orange peels, and coffee grounds are currently being explored, indicating that the potential for improvement in the eco-friendliness of viscose fibers is high.

What about bamboo viscose fabric?

Bamboo is a sustainable plant that grows quickly without needing a lot of water or chemical inputs, making it an eco-friendly choice for fabric production. However, the process of turning bamboo cellulose into a wearable material is chemically-intensive and can have negative environmental impacts, similar to the production of conventional viscose. The good news is that bamboo lyocell is available, made using a closed-loop process that captures and recycles the majority of chemicals and water used in the production process. However, it is important to note that not all bamboo viscose fabrics are made using this sustainable process, so it is important to check for certifications and transparency from the manufacturer.