Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric made from regenerated cellulose, which is derived from wood pulp or other natural materials. The production process involves several chemicals, including sulfuric acid, caustic soda, and carbon disulfide, which can have harmful effects on both workers and the environment.
Despite these concerns, rayon is a popular material in the fashion industry due to its versatility and affordability. It can be used to create a variety of clothing items, including blouses, dresses, denim, pajamas, and athletic wear.
There are several types of rayon, including viscose, lyocell, modal, and cuprammonium rayon. Viscose rayon is the most common type and is often used interchangeably with the term “rayon.”
Viscose/rayon is not considered a sustainable fabric due to the high level of chemicals used in its production and the fact that it is derived from trees. Around 30% of the world’s rayon comes from endangered and ancient forests, leading to deforestation and biodiversity loss.
However, rayon is biodegradable and can break down more easily than other fibers of natural origin, such as cotton. Some producers of rayon have made commitments to meet EU BAT criteria, which measure things like carbon disulfide requirements, freshwater and energy consumption, caustic soda use, emissions, and more.
While rayon may not be considered eco-friendly in all scenarios, there are efforts being made to improve its sustainability. It is important to consider the environmental and social impacts of the materials we choose to wear and support companies that prioritize sustainability in their production processes.