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Apparel Boosts Business for Cellulose Fibers

A growing consumer demand for sustainable clothing has kick-started a surge in the use of cellulose fibers.

According to a recent report by Transparency Market Research, the market for cellulose—fibers derived from plant-based materials such as wood pulp—is forecast to increase at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent between 2012 and 2018. Clothing is expected to account for more than 50 percent of cellulose production worldwide.

Asia Pacific will lead the way, both in terms of volume and revenue, climbing at a CAGR of 8.1 percent by 2018 due to rising demand for cellulose fibers from the textile industries of India and China. The market is also expected to grow in Europe and the U.S., but at a slower pace.

Some of the various regenerated forms of cellulose fibers used in the clothing industry today include Tencel lyocell, viscose, modal and other rayons, which in recent years have nabbed some market share from cotton, wool and oil-based synthetic fibers.

Key players listed in the report are Germany’s KelheimFibres, the Japan-based Daicel Corporation, Thai Rayon, PT. Indo-Bharat Rayon in Indonesia, China’s TangShanSanyou, Grasim Industries Ltd. from India and Austrian fiber manufacturer Lenzing.

Success, however, is a double-edged sword. While the fashion industry and its dedicated followers are slowly moving toward a more sustainable image, environmental concerns are impeding the growth of cellulose fibers. Higher production costs are one consequence of greater environment-based regulatory measures, as well as forestry policies and fluctuating prices of wood pulp.

To that end, the report says the industry needs to shift its focus toward developing cellulose fibers through renewable sources and providing biodegradable solutions to various industrial demands.