Is Viscose a sustainable fabric?
My opinion - traditional Viscose and Rayons are not sustainable options. However, modern advanced technology produced Viscose are. This continuous research has led me to a decision to no longer stock traditional Viscose, and to only stock Viscose that has been made with sustainable approaches. (You may find there are still traditional Viscose/Rayons in stock or coming in soon, this is due to pre-ordering systems which I can no longer cancel.) I am no longer ordering any traditional Viscose from here on in.
But isn't all Viscose derived from wood, therefore natural and biodegradable?
Viscose is derived from wood yes, so yes, it is natural and biodegradable. However, the majority of Viscose is derived from wood that is not from sustainably managed forests or from renewable sources which leads to deforestation. Also the production methods used to make the wood pulp into fibres, require not only a lot of water, but also chemicals, which harm both the planet and its people.
What about Viscose that are certified Oeko-Tex Standard 100?
A common point of confusion is that fabrics that are Oeko-Tex certified are deemed 'good' fabrics. They are good in the sense that they have been tested to ensure there are no chemicals present on the fabric that would be exposed to the consumer. However, this does not mean that toxic chemicals haven't been used in the production of the fabric, which may have harmed the workers at that stage, or have leaked into the environment through sewage systems, creating toxic environments for wildlife and fauna. Therefore traditional Viscose is not kind to the planet.
So what are the modern sustainable developments?
You may have heard of Lenzing™ and EcoVero™. Lenzing™ is a company brand name that produces EcoVero™ fibres.
"Pulp which is derived from the renewable resource wood as the raw material. Lenzing purchases wood and pulp derived from responsibly managed forests and certified to come from sustainable sources.
The manufacturing of Lenzing™ EcoVero™ fibres generates up to 50% lower emissions and water impact compared to generic Viscose, and a much lower water impact than conventional cotton.
There is a high recovery rate for Process chemicals, and the fibres are fully biodegradable. Under the right conditions, EcoVero can decompose in just 3 months, compared with Polyester which takes 200 years![1.]
Certified eco-responsible: You can be assured that your fashion choices are sensitive to environmental concerns. Manufactured only from certified and controlled wood sources and produced with significantly lower fossil energy use and water than generic viscose, Lenzing™ EcoVero™ branded viscose fibres are certified with the internationally recognised EU Ecolabel. This label of environmental excellence is only awarded to products and services, which have a significantly lower environmental impact throughout their lifecycle: from raw material extraction to production, distribution and disposal." [2.]
Popular brands such as Atelier Brunette, Lady McElroy, meetMilk, and Mind the Maker, have an ethical collection of Viscose that are manufactured with these EcoVero™ fibres.
Nani IRO use a similar Viscose called Lexel/Rexcell which is also manufactured using more environmentally friendly methods to the traditional generic Viscose fabrics on offer.