Natural, Synthetic, and Recycled Fibers
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Bamboo Fibers - Currently, fabrics made from bamboo fibers are a popular 'green' item. There are two ways to process bamboo stalk into bamboo fibers that can be spun into fabric.
- Mechanical Processing- Stalks are mechanically crushed and separated into fibers. This accounts for about 1% of bamboo fiber processing, and is a more labor intensive, and thus expensive, way to process bamboo.
- Chemical Processing- Fibers are produced by exposing the stalks to chemicals. Bamboo can be chemically processed a few ways, and the most common ways are with sodium hydroxide (cheaper) or sulfuric acid. The process using sulfuric acid is more environmentally friendly because the treatment water is neutralized with bacteria and enzymes. It is important to consider where the bamboo is coming from, some countries (China) have less stringent environmental regulations than others (Japan).
The Federal Trade Comission released a report on August 11, 2009 concerning bamboo fabric. Many companies claim that bamboo fabrics are manufactured with environmentally friendly process, and that the fabrics retian the antimicrobial and biodegradable properties of bamboo. For most bamboo rayon fabrics, these claims are not true. Those companies addressed by the FTC have to change their marketing from 100% bamboo fiber to "rayon from bamboo".