Man-Made cellulosic fibers (MMCF) include viscose (rayon), modal, lyocell, acetate, triacetate and cupro. Feedstock include virgin wood, reclaimed material including agricultural waste/by-products (e.g. straw) and pre-/post-consumer waste (e.g. citrus peel, cotton) or other feedstock like flax. The cellulosic matter of these plants or reclaimed material is processed into a pulp, dissolved and then re-generated into a staple or filament yarn through several chemical processes.
Can a growing Man-Made Cellulosic Fiber (MMCF) market contribute to a global textile industry that protects and restores the environment and enhances lives?
Making, sourcing and offering MMCF with sustainability in mind has become a priority for many brands and retailers but also for suppliers due to a number of risks to the environment, people and business operations.
Knowing and managing your supply chain down to feedstock level is critical when implementing strategies and policies to eliminate any risks throughout the value chain of MMCF: Commit to no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation (NDPE), to protection and restoration of forest ecosystems that mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity and are homes to millions of Indigenous Peoples and billions of species, many of them threatened. Support leading standards and systems to drive and measure progress, also beyond forest-based feedstock. Intervene directly with your suppliers of pulp and fibers, invest in innovations like next-generation feedstocks, but also in production technologies that tackle issues related to water, air and greenhouse gas emissions, for example by working towards closed-loop recovery of chemicals and state of the art wastewater treatment. Leading MMCF suppliers can prove safe working conditions, and engage with their staff and local communities to eliminate social and environmental risks.
Use our new MMCF Producer Transparency Questionnaire to gain uniform, easy to read and comparable information of your MMCF fiber suppliers on production site level.
Man-made cellulosic fibers (MMCF) such as Viscose/Rayon, Lyocell, Modal and Cupro, form the second biggest cellulosic fibre group after cotton. The MMCF value chain has the potential to tackle some of the apparel and broader textile industry’s most significant sustainability challenges and, as a consequence, make a very real contribution to building resilience and accelerating regeneration. Its unique prospects for realizing circular fashion, for instance, contrast sharply with the linear models of economic growth that have left many of our ecosystems on the verge of collapse. As a derivative of wood pulp and other natural plant materials, MMCF can play an important role in regenerating many of these ecosystems, as well as ensuring the health of carbon sinks, which play an essential role in stabilizing the Earth’s climate.
To date, however, the sector has faced considerable social and environmental challenges – from deforestation and biodiversity impacts related to raw material sourcing, to safe chemical use and labour rights concerns in the production process. As an industry on the cusp of significant growth, there is a narrow window of opportunity to fully harness MMCF’s potential.
The MMCF 2030 Vision aims to do just that.
Five areas for action: The MMCF 2030 Vision sets out five interrelated areas for ambitious and collaborative action along the entire value chain:
1. Regenerating ecosystems: Restoring natural ecosystems, ensuring a carbon negative value chain, and taking regenerative landscape approaches
2. Producing with zero harm: Managing chemicals and other inputs, zero emissions and closed-loop production systems
3. Enabling circular systems: Designing, incentivizing and implementing circular value chains and zero waste
4.Creating prosperity: Distributing economic value equitably, applying living wage and equality, universal access to education & healthcare
5. Upholding rights: Community empowerment and related access rights, protecting the rights of individuals, indigenous peoples and other communities
The Vision components are underpinned by ten critical enabling factors needed for delivery, including new forms of financing, accelerated routes to scaling innovation, and an enabling policy environment. Learn More Here
The vision of the MMCF Round Tale is to maximize the positive impacts of the fast-growing MMCF category and reduce GHG emissions (CO2 equivalents) by 45% from a 2019 baseline.
The MMCF Round Table aims to achieve this through gathering industry members to identify barriers to growth and take collective actions that result in meaningful impacts. The MMCF Round Table promotes the advancement of preferred MMCF (pMMCF) – including recycled MMCF (rMMCF) – supply and uptake in order to achieve global climate sustainability goals from feedstock to fiber as well as drive positive impact on biodiversity, water and soil health.
The MMCF Round Table is a collaborative, pre-competitive community of industry professionals with different expertise including producers, brands and retailers, as well as other stakeholders working together to drive the holistic industry sustainability agenda, provide up-to-date data and information to support informed decisions and focus on innovation and best practice in pMMCFs and rMMCF.
Textile Exchange has been engaging with hundreds of MMCF stakeholders in recent years – building a unique community that can collectively accomplish what no individual or company can do alone.
Between 2017 and 2020 we saw the roll-out of one to two annual events, in-person and online, held as global and regional MMCF Round Table Summits. Find our more here. (link to archive?)
In 2020, as part of our collaboration with Forum for the Future, a shared vision 2030 on MMCF was launched. Find out more here. During 2020 we established the MMCF Round Table community on The Hub, as the new go-to place for resources, learning, connecting and more related to MMCF. It includes a discussion forum, a library, an events area and the possibility to connect with other members. Get invitations for our webinar series and access to our library here. (link to Hub).
We would like to thank all active members of the MMCF Round Table, the in-kind contribution of our sub-working group members and steering committee members, and our 2021 sponsors.
Teamwork and collaboration are key in bringing initiatives like this to their full potential and we are always looking for partners for the MMCF Round Table. For details of how to support the work of our MMCF Round Table, please contact Simone@TextileExchange.org.
With Manmade Cellulosic Fibers (MMCF) being the second biggest cellulosic fiber group after cotton, and businesses, initiatives, NGOs and governments giving it ever greater attention, Textile Exchange sees a huge potential for more sustainable – or preferred – MMCFs to gain a higher market share. MMCF such as viscose (rayon), lyocell and modal are the second most important group of cellulosic fibers after cotton, with an average demand of 5-6 million tons annually. MMCF, usually made of wood or bamboo, are produced mostly in Asia (over 80%), with the highest percentage produced in China (over 60%).
MMCF volumes are expected to increase rapidly in the next 15 years possibly reaching 10 million tons annually. There is huge potential for sustainable – or pMMCF – to gain a higher market share. The management of resources and inputs as well as the efficiency and control of the manufacturing process can make MMCF products a preferred fiber choice. Recently there has been progress on recycling of cellulosics and leading suppliers offer MMCF fibers with recycled content – rMMCF.
A preferred MMCF is one that is sourced from producers verified as low risk of sourcing from ancient and endangered forests, including certified feedstock or alternative feedstock, and one that is manufactured more sustainably. This means fewer toxic chemicals are used and/or the manufacturing technologies aim for high recovery rates where water and chemicals are re-gained. ZDHC guidelines are now targeting fiber production processes and implementing these measures will take the industry to the next level of MMCF.
Challenges are still to be overcome in the forest, the factory, and the marketplace. This Round Table aims to transform business – move from linear to circular, and to find
solutions to technical, societal, and commercial barriers to growth, aligned with the SDGs and Textile Exchange Climate + targets.
The textiles industry is highly engaged on MMCFs. Over 160 brands have committed to more sustainable MMCF sourcing and 80% of fiber suppliers have agreed on policies for sustainable forest practices, according to the NGO Canopy. Nevertheless, decreasing negative sustainability impacts and eliminating risks deep down in the supply chains of this fast-growing fibers is still challenging.
In Vancouver, Textile Exchange’s Global Round Table Summit on MMCF brought together more than 150 stakeholders from NGOs/R&D/ Academia (22%), Supply Chain (21%), Brands and Retailers (35%) and others (21%).
Expert speakers from April, Birla Cellulose, Canopy, CV/Sateri, Earthworm, Fashion Positive, Forum for the Future, Gap Inc., Guess, IKEA, Lenzing, PEFC/SFI, Sappi DWP and ZDHC offered deep dives in:
At this year’s Round Table Summit, more emphasis was put on social considerations of feedstock sourcing. For example, how poverty is the main driver of deforestation and why we need to focus on local communities and economic development for smallholders.
Another focus next to protection of forests, safe chemical management and securing fiberto-garment traceability were fiber processing innovations and the need to find solutions which are commercially viable for the entire supply chain. Sharing of information more holistically and openness to collaborate to scale innovations – like the use of textile waste for the production of pulp – were seen as positive outcome of the Round Table for example.
Our live poll also included insights on how informed the audience sees themselves (50% partly informed or 14% not really informed) and if Textile Exchange should offer more comprehensive information and engagement (43.37% agree).
Huge thanks to Sateri and Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose (both Pioneer level sponsors) and to Lenzing (Contributor level sponsor):
Thanks also to the 2019 conference sponsors supporting this Round Table:
July 4, 2019 | 1 pm – 4:30 pm | Kraftwerk Berlin, Germany
On July 4, 2019, Textile Exchange’s Simone Seisl hosted the European Roundtable on Manmade Cellulosic Fibers, which brought together all stakeholder groups to hear the latest news and learn from best-practice examples from forest management and processing of feedstock all the way to circular business models.
On October 22, 2018, Textile Exchange bought together relevant stakeholder groups for the 2018 MMCF Round Table in Milan, Italy. A lot had happened since over 60 industry experts came together in 2017 in Washington DC for the first MMCF Round Table, and the 2018 session continued this momentum. The meeting was kindly sponsored by Sustainable Textile Solutions and Lenzing, and was hosted by Simone Seisl of Textile Exchange.
Nicole gave an overview of environmental, occupational health and social issues related to MMCF production, and the approaches that can be used to address these issues and lessen the impacts. She also presented on the MMCF landscape over the past 50 years, where we have seen a shift in focus from purely forestry malpractices in the late 1970s to chemical management issues in the past 10 years. The most recent initiatives were also introduced.
Transformation of manufacturing processes will take time and there might not be “one solution fits all”. One important issue to focus on is not just recovery rates -once the harmful substances are recovered in the process, what is done with them? The best would be to ensure that the large majority of recovered chemicals are re-used in the process.
Need for global norms for the industry.
Case study of how Stella McCartney, as a leading brand, tackled their viscose sourcing to guarantee more sustainable practices in their supply chain. The company has entirely mapped their supply chain down to forest level and selected a limited number of suppliers for their best practices.
The UNECE-FAO work includes key players from both the forest and fashion worlds as well as bringing 10 UN organisations together to find solutions to the issues of sustainability. The fashion industry plays a pivotal role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by ensuring sustainable consumption and production methods. The initiative shows that it is possible to maintain the natural capital of forests while using it sustainably.
Challenges related to forestry and better practises through for example certified forests and policies on virgin forest based feedstock for MMCF production by brands and suppliers – session hosted by Canopy and FSC.
Discussion around innovations that can lead to lessening the impact of MMCF production. Presentation of the Spinnova process as an alternative to conventional production. – Session hosted by Fashion for Good and Spinnova.
Strong need for global guidelines for chemical management – waste water, air emission and waste management. Role out for ZDHC guidelines scheduled for mid-2019.
The entire viscose industry needs some time to catch up with best practices agreed upon.
Session hosted by ZDHC and Lenzing
Discussion around circularity of MMCFs – planetary boundaries require investing in this topic.
Session hosted by Stella McCartney
We asked our 100+ participants to share their 3 priority-areas with us.
The six categories and responses were:
Textile Exchange wants to thank again our 2018 MMCF Round Table sponsors Sustainable Textile Solutions and Lenzing, as well as all participants. We very much look forward to continuing these discussions.