Week4 Discussion of environmental impact of fibres, fabrics and processes

Fabric is the most important essence of clothes. Textiles also have market trend and recently, cupro is come back to the textile trend for these couple of years. Cupro is part of cellulosic fibres as similar process as viscose, rayon and lyocell however, it is not such as brand new fibre. The first commercial used cupro fibre has been produced in 1897 by German company J. P. Bemberg. (Asahikasei, 2002)  The first Rayon fibre was produced in 1884 with using the related invention in 1840. (TEonline) As see from the years, cellulosic fibres have more than a hundred year history.

Bemberg is the brand name of cupro made by Asahikasei, Japan which is the one of two cupro productive companies in the world. The brand name is from the first manufacturing company as mentioned earlier. Cupro is made by cotton linter which is short fibre around cotton seed. (Asahikasei, 2002) The most different things from cupro to lyocell are their materials. Lyocell is using wood pulp as a material. (Fletcher, K. pp16) Cotton linter is leftover of cotton manufacturing thus it was just waste after taking off long fibre. Using waste is the first eco-friendly point of this fibre. This action will reduce industrial wastes.

cupro_01                        Image 1

Second point is the processes. Unwinding cotton linter by machine are soaked in sodium hydroxide then it is steamed in high temperature. The cotton linter are bleached out then it is brought to the next stage as resolution.  In the process from cellulose resolution to spinning is almost same as lyocell. “Lyocell differs from viscose (also a regenerated cellulose fibre made from wood pulp) in that the raw cellulose is dissolved directly in an amine oxide solvent without needing to be first converted into an intermediate compound – a development that substantially reduces pollution levels to water and air. The cellulose/solvent solution is then extruded to from fibres and the solvent extracted when the fibres are washed. In this process, more than 99.5 per cent of the solvent is recovered, purified and reused, and since amine oxide is non-toxic, what little effluent remains is considered to be non-hazardous.” (Fletcher, K. pp16) Cupro uses a copper hydroxide and an ammonium hydroxide instead of an amine oxide at the process of resolution however a copper hydroxide and an ammonium hydroxide are also non-toxic. (ASAHIKASEI, 2002) In contrast, rayon uses carbon disulphide and this solvent has been reported some harmful case. “Numerous epidemiological studies on carbon disulfide exposure among workers in viscose rayon plants have been reviewed.

Acute and subacute poisoning appear due to exposure to carbon disulfide concentrations of 500- 3000 mg/m3 and are characterized by predominantly neurological and psychiatric symptoms, “encephalopathia sulfocarbonica” such as irritability, anger, mood changes, manic delirium and hallucinations, paranoic ideas, loss appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances and sexual disorders.” (WHO, 2000, Chapter 5.4, pp4)  It is supposed that the reason of decrease in rayon production.

how_01Image 2: process of production of cupro

There is one more advantage of cupro production in dyeing process. Nowadays, reactive dye is popular to use for cotton dyeing because reactive dye operates under low temperature moreover it is good for fixing colour. For example, synthetic fibres are generally dyed by dispersing dye and it operates from 80℃ to 130℃ although reactive dye can operate from 60℃ to 80℃. Cupro is categorised regenerated cellulosic fibre and made by cotton therefore cupro can be dyed by reactive dye. Furthermore, speed of dyeing for cupro is faster than cotton dyeing which will help reducing CO2.

dye_02   Image 3

As mentioned earlier, cellulosic fibres are eco-friendly fibres yet, they have some controversial points. Firstly, cotton linter is secondary product of cotton production. In fact, connection between cotton and cupro are highly strong and Cupro market need to dependent on cotton market. For instance, if cotton production will decrease, cupro production will decrease too. Also, if cotton rate will be changed, cupro rate will be changed together. Secondly, price of cupro is still expensive. Bemberg is extremely popular as usage of liner fabric but they are quite expensive as components so many companies choose polyester liner instead of cupro liner.

In other words, this is not only for fabric case but also all fashion business case that every roles try to act in each situation at one time. Supplier try to supply materials stably and they need to continue invention of ethical products. Meanwhile retailers should show the proper product value to consumers also consumers ought to learn the reason of price indeed, reasonable prices may have some reasons.


Asahikasei (2002) What is Bamberg, Origin and Evolution [Online] Asahikasei. Available from:  http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/en/bemberg/what_06.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Asahikasei (2002) manufacturing process of solution [Online].Asahikasei. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/cupro_fiber/how.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Fletcher, K. and Grose, L. (2012) Fashion & Sustainability Design for Change. London: Laurence King.

TEonline (n.d.) The manufacturing Process of Rayon, History of Rayon [Online] TEonline, Available from: http://www.teonline.com/knowledge-centre/manufacturing-process-rayon.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

WHO (2000) WHO air quality guidelines for Europe, 2nd edition, 2000 (CD ROM version), Chapter: Part II.  Evaluation of human health risks, 5. Organic pollutants, 5.4   Carbon disulfide [Online/PDF] WHO. Available from: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/air-quality/publications/pre2009/who-air-quality-guidelines-for-europe,-2nd-edition,-2000-cd-rom-version [Accessed 30/10/13]

Image 1

Asahikasei (2002) Cotton Boll and Linter [Online]. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/en/cupro_fiber/cupro_eco.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Image 2

Asahikasei (2002) manufacturing process of solution [Online]. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/cupro_fiber/how.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Image 3

Asahikasei (2002) Outstanding dyeability and color development [Online]. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/en/cupro_fiber/dyeability.html [Accessed 30/10/13]


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