Written by Rachel Cernansky
Viscose has a supply chain problem. Campaigners have identified the semi-synthetic textile, once labelled a sustainable choice, as a troubling reason for global deforestation as well as toxic chemical pollution.
But a new vision for man-made cellulosic fibres such as viscose is laid out in an ambitious report released last week by Textile Exchange and Forum for the Future, two global non-profits, in collaboration with leading industry players.
The man-made cellulosic fibre category, dominated by viscose (also known as rayon), includes modal, cupro, lyocell and acetate — all together they are the third-most common fibre used globally. The new report is a roadmap for addressing the environmental impacts of their production, but it also symbolises an important emerging shift in sustainability efforts — away from a focus on negative impacts, towards generating positive ones.
The big concern is deforestation and the associated decline in biodiversity. Destruction of ecosystems by human activity is thought to be the root cause of the Covid-19 pandemic — which scientists say is just a taste of what continued forest and biodiversity loss could mean for people and the planet.
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