LEARNING CENTER/PREFERRED MM CELLULOSICS
Preferred Man Made Cellulosics are sourced from non-endangered certified forests and are manufactured more sustainably. This means chemicals, water and energy are properly managed to avoid pollution and human exposure.
Preferred Man Made Cellulosics include: Preferred Lyocell, Preferred Modal and Preferred Viscose (according to the above description). Lyocell is the generic name for a biodegradable Man Made Cellulosic fiber. Lyocell is the “gold standard” of the Preferred Man Made Cellulosics when it comes from sustainable feedstock (such as certified plantation forests or recycled cellulose) and is processed within a closed-loop system that recycles the solvent used.
> Lenzing Sustainability and Fiber Innovation • webinar | public
UNDERSTAND SUSTAINABLE FEEDSTOCK
Preferred MM cellulosics must be from certified sustainable forests. Certification includes Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Additionally, CanopyStyle Audit offers third party audits to assess producers’ risk of sourcing from the endangered forests.
According to Canopy, 120 million trees are logged for MMC production every year and dissolving pulp production is projected to double by 2025.
Thanks to Canopy, we are all aware that the majority of MMCs come from forests, possibly even old-growth forests. Inspired by this knowledge, companies are working to reduce deforestation and associated impacts such as climate change, land degradation, and habitat loss.
THE VISCOSE FOOTPRINT
Alongside forestry, awareness of impacts associated with dissolving pulp and fiber processing is growing. The impacts of hazardous chemicals used in viscose production (such as carbon disulphide, sodium hydroxide and sulphuric acid) are of concern from both a human health and safety and environmental pollution perspective.
It is important to note that the size and sustainability of viscose’s water footprint depends on what processes are applied, the respective management practices, and where the processing stages take place.
Through forestry standards such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), traceability to certified forests and Chain of Custody is possible. Some manufacturers offer traceability services, however, there is currently no independent textile standard covering content claim assurance and environmental and social criteria for pulp and fiber processing.
> Material Snapshot: Sorona • pdf | member/paid
> Material Snapshot: Tencel • pdf | member/paid
> Viscose Fibers Production: An Assessment of Sustainability Issues • pdf | external link
FIRST STEPS TO SOURCING PREFERRED MM CELLULOSICS
In a portfolio approach, commercially available MMCs would be looked at one by one. Depending on the overall use and the requirements of a fabric or fiber, sourcing of viscose, lyocell, modal and cupro fibers needs to be mapped to gain understanding of the supply chain and transparency down to fiber level. Fiber producers should be able to prove if their pulp comes from responsible sources. Leading the work on feedstocks and engaging with more than 100 brands is Canada-based NGO Canopy, with their CanopyStyle initiative.
Suppliers of transparent, closed loop fiber production include Lenzing AG from Austria, whose brands include TENCEL©, Refibra™, Edelweiss Modal ®, and Eco Vero™, and Aydity Birla from India, with their Birla Excel brand.
Alternative feedstocks from the textile industry such as linen or cotton waste, or post-consumer reclaimed garments, can offer a lower impact lyocell fiber production. Agricultural by-products such as citrus fruit or milk waste can also be used as feedstock. These alternatives will help to further reduce the pressure on forests (and landfills).
JOIN THE MM CELLULOSICS WORKING GROUP
The management of resources and inputs, as well as the efficiency and control of the manufacturing process, can make MMC products a preferred fiber choice. Recently (since around 2010), there has been progress in the recycling of cellulosics and also of blends.
There is more to do to reach economies of scale. Challenges are still to be overcome in the forest, the factory, and the marketplace. Textile Exchange aims to facilitate businesses in moving from linear to circular, and in finding solutions to technical, societal, and commercial barriers to growth.
Textile Exchange is working with the industry and broader stakeholder groups on education and collaboration through a series of e-learning sessions and Round Table meetings.