Cheat sheets

Material: artificial cellulose fibres

Artificial cellulose fibres such as viscose, are fibres made from plant-derived cellulose materials (namely wood). They are chemically transformed with the help of solvents, for example, in order to give them characteristics similar to those of natural fibres but at a low cost.

Key data

Type of fibre : artificial chemical fibre

Global annual production:approximately 5.2 million tonnes

Main producer countries : China, India, Indonesia

Place in world fibre production: : 3rdequating to almost 5% of global production


Source : Preferred Fiber & Materials Market Report 2021 - Textile Exchange


Properties of the fibre and application examples

Viscose is sometimes referred to as artificial silk given that it was originally invented to replace silk and obtain a less-costly, glossy finish. In addition, these properties are close to those of cotton given that it is composed of cellulose : Glossy - Silky to touch - Resistant - Breathability. 

Viscose is used in :

  • lingerie for the glossiness and silky touch.
  • linings for the glossiness, silky touch and breathability properties.


Can viscose be recycled ? Yes, products composed of viscose can be mechanically (cutting, tearing, garnetting) or chemically (enzymatic dissolution) recycled..


Source : Les fibres chimiques et artificielles - Environnement et savoir

Environmental impacts of production


Harmful chemical products

Use of harmful chemical products during the production process.


Water consumption

Very high water consumption during the manufacturing process.


Massive deforestation

Every year 150 million trees are felled for the wood pulp needed to manufacture viscose.

The raw material used to create viscose is wood pulp. To transform it into thread:


  • The pulp is soaked, shredded then treated.


  • It is then chemically dissolved in a solvent.


  • The pulp is extruded in filaments via dies.


  • The filaments are stretched to obtain thread.


Source : Glossaire des fibres textiles - Made and More


From used textiles made from viscose or other artificial cellulose fibres, it is possible to recycle material and transform it into a thread using a chemical recycling process. Materials undergo enzymatic dissolution.

This treatment modifies the structure of cotton cellulose to dissolve it in a solvent and render it spinnable.

The filament can consequently undergo a classic spinning process after being extruded via dies.

In addition to being used to recreate thread, artificial cellulose fibres have numerous outlets: household or professional cleaning cloths, transformation into unwoven fabric, into flock or fuel.


Like viscose, Lyocell is an artificial chemical fibre obtained from wood pulp. Lyocell is made from eucalyptus wood pulp.

The manufacturing process for Lyocell is recognised as having less impact on the environment than that of viscose. In effect, 99% of the solvent in which the wood pulp is dissolved is recovered, purified then reintegrated into the manufacturing process. It is also non-toxic and non-corrosive. In addition, the use of eucalyptus wood enables a sustainable management of forests given that this tree has a rapid growth cycle (7 years).

Lyocell represents 4.5% of the artificial chemical fibres market, which equates to an annual global production of 0.3 million tonnes.

The company Lenzing produces Lyocell under the Tencel®brand name. The wood pulp used comes from sustainably managed forests with the FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Pan Forest European Certification) labels.


Source : Fiber production - Lenzing


Bamboo fibre has numerous properties: light, solid, soft, anti-bacterial, absorbent… In addition, bamboo is a plant which grows very fast and which only needs a small quantity of water. It requires no fertiliser or pesticide. Bamboo fibre is therefore highly coveted and asserted to have a low impact on the environment namely owing to the plant's cultivation.

Nevertheless, to obtain bamboo fibre, the production process is identical to that of viscose in that it uses numerous chemical products, consumes vast quantities of water and requires a lot of energy. Bamboo fibre is therefore an artificial chemical fibre and not natural !

In addition, vigilance is required with respect to the over-exploitation of bamboo. Sustainable management must be encouraged.


Source : Bambou - WeDressFair

What did you think of the cheat-sheet?

Would you like to give us more details? Click here.