How does Viscose fair environmentally and socially as a material?

Cellulosic fibres like viscose are formed from natural polymers which are then dissolved and extruded as a continuous filament. A common source of cellulose for these fibres is fast growing soft woods such as eucalyptus, which have a harvest cycle of seven years. Eucalyptus is often grown as a monocrop and there are significant environmental issues associated with such plantations, such as loss of biodiversity.

Processing requires external inputs of energy, water and other raw materials and emissions are produced. The cellulose is pulped in a sulphite-based process and then spun, both with significant environmental impacts.

The production of viscose generates emissions to air in the form of sulphur, nitrous oxides, carbon disulphide and hydrogen sulphide. Emissions from the process to water result in high levels of COD and BOD. These emissions are all considered to have major potential for creating environmental problems if discharged untreated.

To find out more about the inputs and outputs of viscose production click here