Is Lyocell a sustainable solution for fashion?By Be Quality | Comments: 0 | May 12, 2022
In the fashion industry, there are new fibres as lyocells as a sustainable solution for the pollution, even more environmentally friendly than natural fibres. In the market lately, there are many garments in lyocell, bamboo or viscose. Many of them have FSC, ,PEFC, or other certificates that show an environmental friendly process. Some claim to be less pollutant, natural and a more breathable product, a ‘less water’ consumption and a softer feeling than cotton.
Lyocell, Viscose, Rayon, Modal are all ‘artificial’ fibres. Artificial fibres are made transforming natural materials (tree barks, leaves, cotton waste, etc) into textile fibres. These natural raw materials ‘melt’ through a chemical process. Obtaining a mass that passes through a sieve and creates the filaments that will later are woven on the fabric. This means it is a man-made transformation of natural (cellulosic) sources with the support other additives & chemicals into textile fibres.
Many of the well known lyocell & viscose fibres use as raw materials Eucalyptus trees.
And this fact is opening new questions about the impact eucalyptus trees have on the environment. Specially knowing that it is native from Australia and few (or none) fauna keeping the balance of the eucalyptus ecosystem came with the trees.
Moreover, it is a tree that needs a high quantity of water (from 30% to 50% more than native trees).
This is a huge environmental problem that is been arising in the last years in Spain, Portugal, California, South Africa, etc. Specially connected to the increase of fires on all those areas.
The reason why the eucalyptus is preferred on the industry of paper and fashion is that it grows at a much faster pace than native trees. And that is an excellent species to dry marshlands (swamp lands).
The arrival of Eucalyptus in Europe is around the 18th century, and since then it has spread, mainly in Spain & Portugal. Now, specially with the climate change challenges we are facing, the Eucalyptus has become a bigger danger to many ecosystems. In many countries in the world, it became an invasive species that needs to stop it’s cultivation areas or even reducing them.
We found a study from 2017 from the Ministry of Environment in Spain that was answering these questions and more. It confirmed the eucalyptus as an invasive exotic species, given the adverse effects they cause on ecosystems. For more information read here.
Natural fibres are 100% biodegradable. This means certain microorganisms eat them and transform them into substances that can nurture the land and other living beings. Artificial fibres (lyocell, rayon, viscose, etc.) are not biodegradable as the natural fibres. Some studies reveal the presence of microplastics of polyester, polyamide & viscoses on the environment, but none of natural fibres. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896971834049X on part 4.Natural and man-made textile microfibres).
After all these considerations I personally agree that lyocell and any artificial fibre are definitely more environmental friendly than any synthetic fibre . We should remember that synthetic fibres are all polymers (plastics) coming from the oil. Biodegradability in synthetic fibres is by far more slow. This creates big damages on the wildlife & environment than any other category of fibres.
At the end, the most the environment friendly are the organic natural fibres. Their water consumption is 80-90% lower than the conventional farming and are 100% biodegradable in a short time. That is why we choose to work only with organic pima cotton for B.e Quality products.