The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into the following fivers.
- Bamboo Rayon-
The following is information I am collecting on rayon. It is a highly technical product and quickly gets confusing. It is meant to be an introduction only .
It has been hard to find out wether Rayon is biodegradable or not!
A recent ocean survey found that rayon contributed to 56.9% of the total fibers found in deep ocean areas, the rest being polyester, polyamides, acetate and acrylic.
Most bamboo fabric that is the current eco-fashion rage is chemically manufactured by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. great article here
The big bamboo swindle
“As the Commission charges, even if the rayon used in the companies’ clothing and textile products is manufactured using bamboo as the cellulose source, rayon does not retain any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant. The rayon manufacturing process, which involves dissolving the plant source in harsh chemicals, eliminates any such natural properties of the bamboo plant. Similarly, the Commission charges that the companies’ clothing and textiles are not made using an environmentally friendly process.
The rayon manufacturing process uses toxic chemicals and results in the emission of hazardous air pollutants. And, despite the claims of Pure Bamboo and Bamboosa, the Commission charges that these rayon products are not biodegradable because they will not break down in a reasonably short time after customary disposal. Most clothing and textiles are disposed of either by recycling or sending to a landfill. Neither method results in quick biodegradation.”
Wether that means they will biodegrade in a compost heap but not in landfill, I cannot say but the production of bamboo fibres isnt very green. Everyone seems to agree on
The Rainforest Alliance has this to say about other forms of regenerated fibres
To make popular fabrics, including rayon and viscose, forests are cut down to make way for monocrop tree plantations. Trees from both the forest and the plantations are cut down and go through an incredibly toxic process to create what is known as dissolving pulp, a white fluffy material that gets spun into threads and woven into cloth.
This cloth is made into fabrics by some of the world’s most popular brands, including RAN’s Fashion Fifteen: Forest destruction for fabric has to stop. That’s why RAN has launched our Out of Fashion campaign, to demand the fashion industry commit to forest friendly fabric.
“But it still comes as a surprise to many to learn that some of the most common fabrics used by big name fashion brands — viscose, rayon and modal — also originate as trees in Indonesia, Canada, Brazil, and South Africa. Only now has a public conversation finally started about the fact that the forest fabric industry is causing human rights violations and forest destruction in some of the world’s most critical ecosystems.”
Plantation expansion for pulp has also been devastating to indigenous and forest-dependent communities. Just in the area owned and operated by one company, Toba Pulp Lestari, in Northern Sumatra, a nonprofit organization called KSPPM has documented over 20 distinct cases where land traditionally owned by communities has been forcibly seized without the consent of the community and then clear cut for acacia plantations.
Lenzig & Greener, Biodegradable Rayon
Viscose, Modal and Tencel (lyocell), from Austria-based company Lenzing, are made from wood pulp. These high-purity cellulose fibres are obtained from sustainably managed forests, according to a report by the University of Cambridge’s sustainable manufacturing group. Compared with cotton, wood has the advantages of low water consumption, reduced pesticide use and produces up to 10 times the amount of cellulose per hectare, states the report. And these fibres are 100 per cent biodegradable.
Lenzing’s latest accomplishment in environmental fiber technology is known as Edelweiss. Edelweiss-technology is based on oxygen-based chemistry which is more eco-friendly than the conventional one. Thus Lenzing Modal® Edelweiss is the only Modal fiber which satisfies the highest environmental standards and is even CO2-neutral.
- Textile Index – more clothes, more links and more information.
- Whats counts as sustainable – read our clothing manifesto