Questioning simply how moral and sustainable modal material is? I’ve achieved all of the digging, to dish the filth on whether or not this material is greenwash or the actual deal.   

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Many manufacturers – quick vogue and moral vogue manufacturers alike – make their garments utilizing modal material. This material is touted as a extra environmentally acutely aware selection than polyester and different varieties of material, however simply how sustainable is it?

It seems, like many points of the style trade, that it’s sophisticated. Let’s have a look!

What Is Modal Material?

So what’s modal material precisely?

Modal is a semi-synthetic fibre constituted of wooden pulp sourced from beech bushes. Regardless of being constituted of bushes, it isn’t thought of pure, like cotton or linen. But it isn’t thought of actually artificial, like plastic-based fibres, similar to nylon or polyester. 

As a substitute, modal falls someplace in between. It is because the wooden pulp requires intensive chemical processing earlier than modal might be produced from it. The sort of manufactured fibre is due to this fact sometimes called “regenerated cellulose.

Modal is a kind of viscose (often known as rayon). Viscose is a fragile material, that’s sometimes called synthetic silk. The distinction right here is that modal goes by further processing to make it a lot stronger than viscose.

Regardless of this power, modal material is silky delicate, breathable and really absorbent. Due to these properties, modal is usually used to make underwear, activewear, and different varieties of clothes that hug your physique.

Modal can be hard-wearing. It retains its form and end, even when washed steadily. This implies modal is much less prone to shrink or tablet in comparison with different varieties of material.

These spectacular properties make modal a well-liked selection within the vogue trade. A “modal” material, if you’ll!

How Is Modal Material Made?

Modal is usually thought of an eco-friendly selection in comparison with different resource-intensive materials, as beech bushes don’t want a lot water or chemical fertilisers to develop. This sounds good, however does modal truly do good? Let’s first check out the way it’s made.

As I discussed earlier than, in contrast to artificial fibres which can be constituted of plastic, modal material is constituted of wooden pulp sourced from beech bushes.

This pulp is then processed with a particular chemical solvent. This dissolves the pulp right into a gloopy liquid, much like the consistency of honey.

As soon as liquified, the answer is pumped by a thimble-shaped metallic nozzle, known as a spinneret. This nozzle has very effective holes in it. The wooden pulp resolution is pressured by these holes – rising from the spinneret as lengthy fibres.

These fibres are then both spun into steady strands – both as they’re, or blended with different fibres, similar to cotton or elastane – earlier than being prepared to be used within the material and vogue industries.

Is Modal Material Environmentally Pleasant or Sustainable?

Up to now, so good. We’ve established that, in contrast to polyester or nylon, modal doesn’t use any plastics. And it’s constituted of bushes, that are a renewable useful resource.

However is that this sufficient to make modal material sustainable or environmentally pleasant?

I’m afraid not. Simply because modal is constituted of wooden pulp, this doesn’t make it a sustainable or environmentally pleasant material selection by default.

As a substitute, all of it comes all the way down to particular person producers. Particularly, the processes and the supply of the wooden pulp that they select to make use of. It’s these two key components that decide if their modal material is eco-friendly or not.

Which means that how the bushes are sourced, and the way the pulp is processed impacts how sustainable any given modal material could also be.

Tree Sourcing

A deciduous forest

One of many foremost components that decide whether or not modal is eco-friendly comes down as to whether the wooden pulp used is sourced from sustainably managed forests, or not.

To make sure that the wooden pulp is sourced from sustainable forests, modal producers can supply wooden from licensed woodlands.

Wooden that’s licensed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) implies that it meets the “gold normal” of moral manufacturing. The wooden is harvested from forests or woodlands which can be responsibly managed, socially helpful, environmentally acutely aware, and economically viable.

In the meantime, wooden that’s licensed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) ensures that timber and non-timber forest merchandise are produced to the best ecological, social and moral requirements.

If the wooden pulp is sourced from FSC or PEFC-certified woodlands, then that is one indication that the modal material is extra sustainable and environmentally pleasant.

Modal material that’s constituted of uncertified wooden pulp implies that your clothes might not be so eco-friendly. It might be contributing to unlawful logging, habitat destruction, the lack of biodiversity and extra.

Chemical Processing

In addition to the supply of the wooden used, one thing else that must be thought of is simply how the modal material is produced.

As I discussed earlier than, through the manufacturing course of, the wooden pulp is processed with a solvent that dissolves the pulp right into a liquid.

It is a chemical-heavy course of, generally known as “xanthation”. This course of typically makes use of the extremely poisonous chemical carbon disulfide to dissolve the wooden pulp into this gloopy soup.

Carbon disulfide is a neurotoxin, which may seriously harm garment workers and people living near viscose factories. The impacts of carbon disulfide publicity embrace psychological well being issues, blindness, and different extreme well being issues.

Xanthation can be a water-heavy course of, which generates wastewater. Carbon disulfide might be discovered on this wastewater. If it’s not handled correctly, it could actually contaminate native waterways, killing aquatic life.

There are methods to mitigate hurt. Some producers use a closed-loop course of when making their modal. What this implies is that the solvents and water used to create the modal are virtually all totally recovered and reused. This tremendously reduces the chance of environmental injury.

How Do We Make Certain Modal Material Is Made Responsibly?

If you’re on the lookout for sustainable and responsibly made modal material, it’s necessary to purchase modal that’s manufactured in step with environmental greatest practices. And it’s necessary to make sure that the wooden used is sourced from sustainably managed forests.

While it’s not all the time simple to entry this info, some producers are extra clear. Some are so pleased with their environmental credentials that they’re virtually shouting about them. And fairly rightly so. The extra producers that present the correct technique to produce modal, the extra customers will demand change within the trade.

Lenzing AG, for instance, is without doubt one of the most well-known producers of sustainable modal.

The entire wooden merchandise utilized by Lenzing AG are sourced from European PEFC or FSC-managed forests. In the meantime, Lenzing AG has additionally developed pioneering manufacturing options that permit Lenzing AG to get well as much as 95% of the manufacturing supplies used. These are then reused over and over, to keep away from discharge into the surroundings.

To assist distinguish this extra sustainable modal from different varieties of modal obtainable, Lenzing AG calls its modal TENCEL™ Modal. You’ll typically see it known as Tencel. This isn’t a unique kind of cloth – it’s simply the model identify for this specific modal material.

Confused? Don’t be. It’s much like the way in which that sure gadgets are identified by the model identify reasonably than the product identify. For instance, we name sticky tape Sellotape, when Sellotape is simply the model identify for a specific kind of sticky tape. Equally, we are saying we have to hoover when Hoover is only a model identify for a kind of vacuum cleaner.

Wish to know extra? Try my full information to Tencel.

Is Modal Extra Environmentally Pleasant Than Different Forms of Viscose?

In addition to viscose, modal belongs to the identical household as lyocell – one other kind of regenerated cellulose. The regenerated cellulose household, if you’ll.

While I’d by no means ask you to rank your individual members of the family, within the case of the regenerated cellulose household, it’s completely acceptable to rank them!

Viscose is ranked the least environmentally pleasant. This has a extra chemically intense manufacturing course of than modal, which isn’t properly regulated. Viscose can be much less sturdy and received’t final so long as modal or lyocell materials.

Standard modal is ranked barely higher than viscose. After which TENCEL™ modal comes out as higher than modal.

That being stated, TENCEL™ modal isn’t probably the most sustainable of the regenerated cellulose household. For that, it’s a must to look to its green-haloed sibling – TENCEL™ Lyocell.

TENCEL™ Lyocell is produced utilizing extra environmentally pleasant solvents in a extremely regulated closed-loop course of. What this implies is that the solvents and water used to create TENCEL™ Lyocell are recovered, and reused once more.

In truth, in response to Lenzing AG, when making TENCEL™ Lyocell the water is 100% recovered and recycled. In the meantime, the solvent is nearly all totally recovered and reused – with a restoration price of greater than 99.5%. Which means that very little or no solvent is wasted or discharged into waterways.

Different producers make lyocell. To make sure your lyocell clothes has been made in an eco-friendly and accountable method, then much like modal, search for the TENCEL™ Lyocell trademark.

The Manufacturers That Use TENCEL™ Modal or Lyocell Material

Lenzing AG solely produces modal material – it doesn’t manufacture clothes. This implies it’s a must to search for vogue manufacturers that use TENCEL™ Modal. That can assist you out, listed below are a few of my favorite moral clothes manufacturers that use TENCEL™ modal or TENCEL™ Lyocell material.


A family wearing Allbirds modal fabric clothing.

Allbirds – the moral shoe model – has expanded into environmentally acutely aware clothes too. Its vary of males’s, girls’s, and child’s clothes makes use of supersoft TENCEL™ in every part from t-shirts to trainers.

Ninety %

Ninety Percent is a London-based sustainable clothes label, that produces luxurious moral fundamentals, similar to natural cotton hoodies, and classy tops crafted from sustainable supplies similar to TENCEL™.

It additionally has created a pioneering profit-sharing enterprise mannequin. This method sees Ninety % sharing 90% of its income between those that make the garments and 5 charitable causes – together with Conflict Baby UK, Wild Help, and Large Life.

Thought Clothes

Person wearing red Tencel dress from Thought

Thought Clothing makes easy-to-wear moral garments for women and men which can be each sustainable and modern.

Thought’s method to moral vogue is one to be counseled. The model makes use of solely licensed pure and recycled fibres and materials – of which TENCEL™ is a key part – and makes its garments ethically.


Searching for outside or leisurewear constituted of TENCEL™? Try TenTree. In addition to making males’s and ladies’s moral clothes out of wooden pulp, TenTree give again to nature, by supporting world reforestation initiatives. In truth, true to call, the model vegetation 10 bushes for each order positioned. 


TOMS shoes in grey, made from sustainable TENCEL modal.

As an authorized BCorp, TOMS Shoes invests one-third of its income into grassroots efforts, like organisations creating change on the native stage. Its funding priorities lie in selling psychological well being, ending gun violence, and rising entry to alternative.

Try its Earthwise range for TOMS’ most sustainable footwear, that are made with TENCEL™, natural cotton, hemp, or recycled polyester. Encouragingly, TOMS can be exploring an end-of-life recycling programme for its footwear.  

The Backside Line

While modal material is constituted of pure supplies, this doesn’t make it an eco-friendly fibre by default. As a substitute, we have to take into account whether or not the supply of that wooden is sustainable or not. After which we additionally want to think about whether or not accountable and environmentally pleasant manufacturing processes have been used or not.

Select modal clothes made by clear manufacturers. Search for the precise TENCEL™ labelling or for manufacturers that specify their material is made utilizing sustainable sources and processes.

If there is no such thing as a info obtainable, assume that your modal clothes hasn’t been made with as a lot regard to the surroundings or the protection of garment employees.

To assist result in constructive change within the vogue trade, you may ask the style manufacturers in query why they don’t use sustainable modal. Vogue manufacturers can change within the face of client stress, so the extra we ask these questions and demand transparency, the extra the style trade can change.

#Modal #Material #Sustainable #EcoFriendly

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