Is modal a good fabric from a sustainability perspective?
In Lenzing’s case, it has been certified as both biodegradable and compostable under home, soil, industrial, and marine conditions.
Its growth is more sustainable than that of cotton, and it’s responsible for yields up to ten times as high. It also uses 20 times less water.
Water is also saved when you’re wearing those new modal fabric sustainable pajamas. The material doesn’t require heavy washing, and you’ll have no need for whitening agents or eco-friendly fabric softeners.
While Lenzing leads the way in modal sustainability, there are other companies that produce this type of rayon.
But not all brands create modal fabric equally.
Sometimes, the modal production process takes place in countries like China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan—but without the strict standards used by Lenzing.
In some areas of the world, the production process of modal fabrics occurs with government standards that are more lax than in others and modal’s overall sustainability is determined by several factors:
Raw Material Sourcing:
Modal can be sustainable if the beech trees used for its production come from responsibly managed, renewable forests.
While beech trees produces the most eco-friendly modal fabrics, rainforest pulp has been used as well. While environmentally responsible processes that use sustainably sourced wood are responsible for Lenzing modal fibers, many other manufacturers don’t do the same.
In fact, the viscose supply chain (which includes all fabrics of the viscose family, modal included) has been linked to logging in tropical rainforest areas—at a rate that’s predicted to double by 2025.
Such unsustainable logging practices and deforestation can have detrimental effects on ecosystems, namely biodiversity loss.
Chemical Use & Resource Recycling:
Like bamboo fabric, the type and quantity of chemicals used in modal production play a significant role in its sustainability. Excessive chemical use can harm the environment and surrounding communities.
A sustainable modal production process always involves a closed-loop process where chemicals used in the manufacturing are recycled, reducing waste and minimizing the release of harmful substances into the environment.
Sustainable modal practices also involve responsible water management, including water recycling and treatment to minimize water pollution.
To ensure you’re getting modal processed in optimally eco-friendly ways, look for brands that specify using closed-loop processes and those with non-toxic sustainability certifications, like OEKO-TEX certification or bluesign® approval.
Unlike purely synthetic fabrics, modal is biodegradable, meaning it can naturally break down over time, reducing its impact on landfills and the environment compared to synthetic fabrics that don’t readily decompose.
But whether modal is safe enough to toss in your indoor compost bin depends on the safety of the chemicals used in its manufacturing, so this otherwise big sustainability pro hinges on the choices made at the production stage.
In the end, sustainable modal fabric can only be truly eco-friendly if consumers are aware of the varying elements involved in its production process and make conscious choices to support responsible brands and practices.