Remembering The Environment
Rayon is still one of the big items on HHC’s list to remind people about when making textile sourcing decisions. Below is an excerpt from Green America Organization’s 2019 Toxic Textiles Report. I have the whole report available to read as well. (Click on the thumbnail to the right to access the full report).
Rayon, also known as viscose, is cellulose (plant) based, semi-synthetic fiber, often from trees. Its silky quality and durable nature make it a cheap alternative for silk, and it is an increasingly popular textile due to its versatility.
Rayon is made through a chemical, energy, and water-intensive process that converts wood pulp into a textile. The rise in rayon production has led to an increase in deforestation. In fact, an estimated 30% of rayon is made from wood sourced from protected or endangered forests. The NGO Canopy Style estimates that over 150 million trees are turned into fabric every year. Pulp mills dissolve wood pulp in a chemical solution, which then produces a substance that can be spun into a fiber. 60-70% of the tree is lost in this process.
Meanwhile, a report found that viscose manufacturing factories in China were contributing to severe air and water pollution, and residential areas near factories had three times the allowable limit of carbon disulphide, a chemical central to the production of rayon. Carbon disulphide has been linked with heart diseases, birth defects, and cancer. The rayon manufacturing factories were not only adversely affecting the health of the workers, they were also leaving a negative impact on the community as well.
Companies are increasingly pledging to not knowingly use rayon made from ancient or endangered forests; however, it is not yet an industry-wide commitment. Furthermore, as demand for rayon increases, more trees will have to be used. Although rayon is made from quick growing trees, deforestation is still a concern as there is no guarantee about the sustainability of the sourcing practices, especially for companies that rely on large volumes of rayon production for their clothing. The rise of fast fashion and the need for more resources provided faster and cheaper lends itself to practices that prioritize output and turnaround time over sustainability. NGOs are working to make the rayon manufacturing process more sustainable, working with mills and brands to implement more sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices; however, they are still the exception and not the norm.
Let HHC help you make the right textile sourcing decisions.