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CSR Factsheet

MAN-MADE FIBRES
the human touch

Planet
Cotton and wool

Man-made fibres
Recycled fibres Energy use Water use Water waste (available soon) Chemicals use

This factsheet informs you about the environmental issues of the production of man-made fibres. It provides you insight in the comparison of the different fibres and a range of concrete alternatives and actions for reducing the environmental impact of a fibre.

THE TEXTILE CASE


Man-made fibres have quickly become a considerable part of the market share. Today, they are more than one third of the total world production of textile fibres. Man-made fibres are divided into two types: Viscose and related cellulose-based fibres (half-synthetic) Synthetic fibres like polyester, nylon and acrylic Viscose is the best known cellulose fibre. Variants are modal, lyocel (tencel), rayon (cupro) and acetate. The cellulose that is needed to produce these fibres is extracted from pine trees. Recently bamboo cellulose is in the picture. The wood pulp from the pine trees (or bamboo) is treated chemically and dissolved in different ways to spin the cellulose fibre. The different types of synthetic fibres are made from base- chemicals (ester, amide, acryl), which are derived from crude oil and natural gas.

Index: Factsheet
The textile case The environment issue The supply chain approach Product design and fabric selection Choose suppliers with a credible certificate Check suppliers policy and performance Working with suppliers to implement good housekeeping measures. Inform the consumer Get informed, aware, inspired and challenged Provided by:

Man-made fibres impacts (blue spheres) in the fibre to fashion chain

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THE ENVIRONMENT ISSUE


...use of resources and land

...water and chemicals

Synthetic fibres score reasonably well on water In Europe, almost all cellulose is extracted from pine input. But cellulose based fibres require a lot of water during the manufacturing process. trees farmed in production forests. If this wood is Many chemicals and chemical processing is involved produced sustainably, the biodiversity impact is in the manufacturing of the fibres and spun yarn, strongly reduced and acceptable. However, ranging from solvents causing air pollution, to uncontrolled deforestation can cause erosion and chemicals and heavy metals (causing water depletion of soil. pollution). Especially a lot of chemicals are used for Non-renewable fossil fuels are used to produce (bamboo) viscose. synthetic fibres. This use contributes to a small extent to the depletion of oil reserves.

THE SUPPLY CHAIN APPROACH

...energy consumption

We should have a critical look at the production processes of man-made fibres and their potential Energy consumption affects the environment through depletion of resources and emissions to air, environmental impact. Some suppliers of these fibres will have taken more steps to reduce energy including the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) use and the use of hazardous substances than which is a greenhouse gas and contributes to others. climate change. Overall, all man-made fibres (both synthetic and cellulose-based) score relatively bad on energy consumption when compared to cotton. Tencel and Modal (new viscose fibres) are an exception to this rule. Wool takes a mid position.

What can you do? Designers and product managers


Be aware of the environmental footprint of man-made fibres. Consider natural fibres as a renewable source but ... ... know that cotton and wool don't necessarily perform better on all environmental issues <<see: cotton&wool factsheet.pdf>>. Sourcers and supply chain managers You select suppliers of fabric (and yarn), include the environmental performance of the producer in the selection process. Do the Made By/MODINT fibre benchmark and strategy training

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WHAT TO FOCUS ON AND HOW TO IMPROVE?


There are three ways of addressing the environmental impact of the man-made fibres:

A. Product design and fabric selection B. Screening, selecting and working with suppliers C. Inform the consumer to help to make friendly choices

A. Product design and fabric selection


The clear option for man-made fibres is to choose materials with a lower environmental impact. But which do have the better environmental performance. The MADE-BY fibre bench mark actually provides the best available guidance on the selection of a fibre from an environmental perspective. Fibres are scored on their environmental profile from best of class (A) to worst (E). Class A
Recycled cotton Recycled nylon Recycled polyester Organic hemp Organic flax (linen)

Class B
Tencel (Lenzing lyocell product) Organic cotton In conversion cotton

Class C
Conventional hemp Ramie B PLA Conventional flax (linen) D

Class D
C Virgin polyester C Poly-acrylic B Lenzing Modal (viscose product)

Class E
D Conventional cotton Virgin nylon Rayon Cuprammonium Bamboo viscose Wool Generic viscose

Unclassified
Silk Organic wool Leather Elasthan (Spandex) Acetate Cashmere wool Alpaca wool Mohair wool Fiber-base bamboo Etc.

Based on the Made-By fibre benchmark and CE report Life cycle environmental impact assessment of textiles (March 2010).

The ranking is largely underscored by a recent environmental shady (LCA) on the Dutch textile consumption. <<CE report page.pdf>>. On the fibres in bold there is consensus. Where CE comes to another conclusion it is indicated. Others are not included in the CE report.

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The recycled versions of fibres do have the lowest lower environmental impact. The bio-based alternative PLA (made from corn) also has a better environmental profile than virgin polyester. So, if you go for renewable, this is a safe choice, although recycled polyester scores better. Comparing the viscose fibres gives preference to Tencel and viscose from Lenzing above regular viscose. Lyocell (Lenzing brand-name: Tencel) is a new fabric in the field of cellulose fibres. The cellulose fibres are directly dissolved and spun for production. Almost all solvents can be reused, which is why the production of lyocell is more environmentally friendly compared to viscose. Click here for more information. Of course organic cotton scores better than regular cotton. But comparing the man-made fibres with the natural fibres cotton and wool, it should be realised that the environmental profile of the naturals is very different. Cotton and wool are renewable materials which give them a sustainable feel and image. The oil-based synthetic fibres have a negative image because of the depletion of oil reserves. But in calculations the water use (cotton), land use (cotton and wool) and climate change emissions (sheep breeding) give cotton and wool a low score. Especially wool remains a point of friction between positive feel and very negative figures.

B1. Choose suppliers with a credible certificate


Although there are no certificates in the textiles sector that focus specifically on man-made fibres, there are certain textile standards that include requirements relevant to (the production of)

man-made fibres. Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 and 100plus


The Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 certifies environmental-friendly textile production sites. Oeko-Tex 100plus is a product label combining the Oeko-Tex 100 standard for products and the 1000 standard for all involved production sites. Both standards are relevant for both natural and man-made fibres. It provides a guarantee that environmental criteria are met on water, chemicals and energy use, waste water treatment, air pollution and noise reduction. The website provides information on certified suppliers.

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)


FSC Certification is relevant to manufacturers of cellulosic fibres such as viscose and bamboo. FSC provides a certification system with internationally recognized standard, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organizations and communities interested in responsible forestry.

EU Ecolabel for Textile products


The European Ecolabel for Textile products (including clothing) has set environmental criteria that define the best in class in this product group. The label includes specific criteria on fibres, including man-made cellulose fibres, polyamide, polyester and polypropylene. Criteria are set on (amongst others) the presence of hazardous substances in the fibres (e.g. antimony in polyester) and the emission of dangerous substances to water and air during the production of fibres. The website provides information on certified suppliers of yarn, fabric and products.

B. Screening, selecting and working with suppliers


An important choice is to work with suppliers on making steps. There are basically three ways to do this:

1. Choose suppliers with a credible certificate. 2. Check suppliers policy and performance. 3. Working with suppliers to implement good housekeeping measures.

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B2. Check suppliers policy and performance


You need inform yourself about how your suppliers of yarn, fabric or clothing made from man-made fibres perform. You can get a good impression on your suppliers environmental policy and performance by asking for information and raising some additional questions. Independently checked information is of course most reliable but youll be largely dependent on suppliers own information. For an expert opinion you can always consult a MODINT

CSR manager.

What can you do? Check the suppliers sustainability report and/or ask for information on:
Does the supplier have a policy on environmental impact of fibres used or produced? Is this policy translated into specific targets on environmental impact? Does the company use internationally recognized initiatives and labels, and to what extent? Is environmental impact monitored and reported? Verify the answers to these questions, preferably through: a signed environmental policy preferably part of an environmental management system (ISO-14001), and a verified CSR report including specific environmental impact data, Ask for specific information about environmental impact claims the supplier makes. It is important that this information can be considered reliable (no easy way-out on serious questions!).

B3. Working with suppliers to implement good housekeeping measures


Apart from a screening and selection of suppliers based on their environmental impact/performance, companies may also work with suppliers to minimize environmental impact. Of course, this also goes for the companys own operations (show a good example, walk the talk). A few guidelines and even fewer alternatives to manage and reduce environmental impact can be explored.

For the man-made fibres its important to adhere to kotex-100/1000 and EU Ecoflower label certifications, especially because of their chemical origin. You can try to discuss this with your regular supplier or look for a supplier who works with it. A specific issue is the use of the heavy metal antimony in the polyester production. Several companies have come with a Antimony-free polyester f.e. Victor Eco-Intelligence which is more than antimony free and certified Cradle-to Cradle.

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But it seems only to be available for home-textiles, so well have to keep a keen eye and even create a demand on availability for apparel!

What can you do?


Discuss with suppliers the applicability of their environmentally improved fibers and fabric for apparel.

small but increasing. Awareness on the environmental impact is growing like it did with the social issues. But, consumers generally hesitate to pay a higher price for environmentally friendly textile when shopping. In fact they count on the brands and retailers to pay proper attention to environmental protection. A positive environmental message will gain their trust, negative publications will on the other hand harm the image of a brand or retailer.

C. Inform the consumer about ways to reduce environmental impact


Consumers can contribute to a reduced environmental impact of man-made fibres by buying certified products (e.g. kotex certified, EU Ecoflower, Cradle-to-Cradle certified ). The number of mainstream consumers that is actively interested in buying sustainable textile is relatively

What can you do?


Promote the use of sustainable textiles to enhance consumer awareness. Consider not increasing product prices for environmentally friendly textile.

GET INFORMED, AWARE, INSPIRED AND CHALLENGED! Designers/ Product managers


leave room in your design for environmental choices in fibre and fabric Buyers/ Sourcers/Product managers explore and purchase environmental friendly fabric or garments aim on certified products and suppliers CSR and Supply chain managers select suppliers or discuss with suppliers on environmental friendly products and production aim on certification or co-operation on specific issues Management developing a (man-made) fibre strategy toward increasing the use of more sustainable fibres (Made-by benchmark) training and informing employees putting targets (priority) and providing means (budget)
This series of factsheets is produced by MODINT and CREM in co-operation with VGT, CBW-MITEX, MADE-BY and Solidaridad, supported by VROM and AgentschapNL. version: October 2010 The information in this factsheet is composed with utmost care based on public available information. Any liability cannot be claimed on the composers. The information is a selection of the most relevant according the composers. This is a first public version of the factsheet series, all users are invited to give comments and suggestions for improvements via csrcheck@modint.nl . You can indicate yourself as user also via csrcheck@modint.nl (subject: factsheet user) in order to get a notification when a new version of factsheets is available.