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What are the environmental impacts of rayon?

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Rayon is the third largest produced fabric in the textile sector because of easy availability of raw material and increasing demand but it does not stand equally on the three pillars of sustainability that are environment, economy and society.

Rayon is a regenerated fiber that utilises wood pulp and cotton linters as raw materials however the manufacturing process utilises certain harmful chemicals that have a huge impact on the environment. These chemicals include sodium hydroxide which contributes towards the water and air pollution and carbon disulphide that is often associated with certain medical conditions such as heart and skin diseases. The waste sludge generated from rayon production is said to have zinc as one of the toxic chemicals.

The story of the environmentally hazardous manufacturing procedure does not end here, the major concern is the raw material as well. Although wood pulp and cotton linters are cellulosic, their extraction process also contributes when assessing the life cycle of rayon. A lot of deforestation is involved in wood pulp extraction and extensive water is required in cotton cultivation. Also, cotton manufacturing itself has a lot of drawbacks involved.

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