We’ll go over the modal fabrics used in clothing and bedding’s sustainability in this article.
The fashion industry is just starting to use modal fabric. Given that it is a semi-synthetic fabric made from wood pulp, you might assume it is a sustainable and eco-friendly choice.
Is modal fabric sustainable? Because the finished product is strong and biodegradable and the raw materials are made from renewable wood, modal is typically a sustainable fabric. However, certain modal manufacturing techniques are linked to high energy (often fossil fuel) and chemical usage.
Learn everything there is to know about this fabric, such as how it is produced and whether it is sustainable.
Is Modal Fabric Sustainable?
TENCEL™ Modal specifically has a positive environmental impact because it is carbon neutral, uses less water, and requires less land per tonne than cotton fibers.
Furthermore, it’s significant to note that the TENCEL™ modal can be recycled into nature because it completely biodegrades and composts in a variety of environments, including those found in homes, offices, soil, and oceans.
The primary raw material used in the production of the TENCEL™ modal is beech wood, which can be found in Austria and its neighboring countries in sustainable forests. At the Lenzing facility in Austria, pulp and fiber production are completely integrated, making it possible to produce fibers in an environmentally friendly manner.
Consequently, the TENCEL™ modal is derived from forests that have been sustainably managed.
Just remember that since they aren’t required to adhere to their strict standards, modal produced by companies other than Lenzing AG might not be as environmentally conscious. If a piece of modal isn’t TENCEL™ certified, it was probably produced in a factory that isn’t open about its social and environmental policies.
If you can, try to only buy from companies that have the TENCEL™ modal certification.
Is Modal Fabric Eco-friendly?
Modal uses less water, occupies less space, and requires fewer trees to be felled than other types of textiles. Beech trees are more environmentally friendly than other textile plants because they require no artificial irrigation and use 10 to 20 times less water than cotton plants.
These features give modal the appearance of being a fabric that is friendly to the environment.
Sadly, unlike the fabric itself, most textile companies that use yarn to create modal fabrics are not as environmentally friendly. In the course of production, many of them use excessive amounts of water and chemicals. Although many textile companies that produce modal fabric are not, the yarn may be sourced sustainably.
Despite being made from plants, the production process involves soaking the fabric in chemicals like sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. For this reason, the modal is categorized as a semi-synthetic fabric.
Environmental Impact of Modal Fabric
The manufacturer, the source of the pulp used to make the cellulose, the kinds of chemicals used to bleach the pulp, the way wastewater is handled and discharged, and the method used to dye the fabric are some of the variables that affect how modal affects the environment.
Although modal is ultimately made from plants, which are naturally biodegradable, it is also typically dyed and subjected to chemical treatments. How environmentally friendly it is to dispose of something after its useful life depends on how toxic some production-related components may be.
On modal fabrics, the Lenzing company employs a spin-dyeing technique, in which the cellulose mixture is colored before being separated into individual fibers. In comparison to conventional dyeing, which involves dying the finished yarn, this method produces noticeably less pollution.
Spun-dyed modal fabric is produced with 60% less carbon dioxide and 50% less energy than conventionally dyed fabrics, according to a study on the environmental effects of colored textiles. Additionally, it uses half as much water and has a smaller environmental impact than fabric dyed conventionally.
Spin-dyeing has been shown to add future sustainable value in addition to being better for the environment and the modal production process.
Since beech trees require much less water than cotton plants do, producing modal uses less water overall than producing natural fabrics like cotton. Eucalyptus and bamboo are two additional typical sources of cellulose for fibers.
How is Modal Fabric Made?
Reconstituted beech tree cellulose fibers are spun into yarn by spinning them into fibers.
Modal is a well-liked material for underwear and athletic wear because it readily absorbs dye and keeps its color when washed in warm water, similar to other fabrics made of cellulose fibers. Shrinkage and pilling are two other things it is very resistant to.
Although most modal is produced in China, some are produced in Japan.
Pros and Cons of Modal Fabric
The pros and cons of modal fabric are listed below.
Pros of Modal Fabric
- Highly Absorbent: Modal is a popular fabric for lingerie, sportswear, and underwear for a reason. There is no concern about having clammy clothes from excessive sweating because it is 50% more absorbent than cotton.
- Sustainable and Eco-friendly: Sustainable beech trees are used to produce the bio-based, regenerated cellulosic fiber known as “modal.” Modal fabric yields ten times more than cotton and needs half the irrigation. Hence, environmentally friendly and sustainable.
- Energy-Efficient: Contrary to other fabric choices, modal requires fewer cleaning and whitening agents, allowing you to wash your modal clothes more quickly and still get them clean. It is a viable alternative because it uses less energy.
- Stretchy and Breathable: Modal fabric promotes ventilation because of its weave. As a result, it’s a great option for everyday clothing like T-shirts and baby clothes as well as athletic wear.
- Pill-, Shrink-, and Crease-free: It requires very little ironing to stay smooth and wrinkle-free. being the perfect fit for daily use. Here is how to care for modal fabric.
Cons of Modal Fabric
- Turns yellow when exposed to heat: A synthetic fabric made of plants is called modal. Therefore, any heat that is higher than body temperature may cause the fabric to become discolored.
- May cause allergies: Modal Fabric causes negative reactions in many people. It is known to cause allergic reactions such as itchiness, rashes, redness, and in some severe cases, skin blistering.
- Costly: Compared to cotton or viscose, modal is not a cost-effective material. Modal fabric has a high purchase price despite having low production costs.
Conclusion: is Modal Fabric Sustainable?
In general, the modal fabric is a sustainable material. At the end of its life cycle, it is completely biodegradable because it is made of natural cellulose fibers. It is a more environmentally friendly choice because of its modified manufacturing process, which uses less energy and chemicals than rayon (viscose) from the first generation.
So, if you’re looking for a luxurious, soft, and silky-feeling sustainable and eco-friendly fabric that drapes gracefully, especially on hot, muggy days, you shouldn’t consider anything other than modal fabric.
Is Modal Fabric Natural Or Synthetic?
Consumer textiles frequently use modal fabric, which is also referred to as HWM rayon. Due to the fact that this fabric is composed of both organic and synthetic materials, it is regarded as semi-synthetic.
Is Modal Better Than Polyester?
They are both good at keeping shape, don’t wrinkle or shrink, and are durable – though polyester is more so. The distinctions come from the fact that polyester is not breathable and does not absorb water. In addition, it lacks antibacterial properties, making it, in contrast to modal, susceptible to odor production.
Is Modal Fabric Chemical Free?
Modal requires many toxic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, and carbon disulfide. The latter is a well-known neurotoxin that, if modal production is not done in a closed-loop process, can end up in the water or the air.