Which fiber is not biodegradable

Cotton is biodegradable

A total of almost 110 million t of fibers are processed worldwide. This is an immense consumption of resources, of which more than two thirds are made up of man-made fibers.

The effects of consumption become clear when products are in use or, as is often the case, disposed of. Cotton brings great advantages when it ends up in processing from the cotton field: It grows again and again, so it is a renewable resource and it is biodegradable.

Avoid contamination by microparticles

Recently, a certain aspect of sustainability has been the subject of intense public debate: the pollution of rivers, lakes and seas with microparticles. Politics and environmental associations in Germany and Europe are urging consumers, trade and industry to work actively on avoidance strategies. From 2021, the use of nine single-use products will be banned in the EU. In addition to plastic bags, straws, cutlery and packaging material that are carelessly thrown away and find their way into the water, the discussion also deals with certain types of textile fibers. These are rinsed out in large quantities during household laundry.

President of the Bremen Cotton Exchange Jens D. Lukaczik:

“We assume that the need for biodegradable fibers will increase significantly in the next few years. Cotton does not even have to be specially processed to be degradable. With its cellulose base, cotton is a piece of nature that can also be returned to nature. "

Plastic does not degrade in water, but breaks down into microparticles. These not only cause damage in aquatic habitats, but in the worst case end up on our plates via drinking water or via food made from animal products such as fish or other marine animals. Microparticles have even been found in the air or in the ice of the seas.

Microfibers made from 100 percent biodegradable cotton

The situation is different with clothing or textiles made of cotton or other cellulose fibers. Here, too, fibers are released during washing. However, as studies by Cornell University or the University of North Carolina in collaboration with Cotton Incorporated in the United States and the Australian Cotton Research & Development Center (CDRC) show, microfibers made from 100 percent cotton or other cellulose fibers degrade in water . This also applies to cotton fibers that have been deposited in the ground. However, a faster degradation process can be observed in water bodies.

Conclusion: Shopping more sustainably means buying more textiles and clothing made of cotton.

Source: Bremen Cotton Exchange, November 2019