86% consumers consider wood sustainable material: study


Eighty-six per cent of consumers consider wood a sustainable textile raw material, according to a study on consumer attitudes towards textile materials and sustainability by Spinnova. Still, only one third are familiar with wood-based apparel. Consumers think brand sustainability image is single most important sign of conscious buying decision.

The study was made in Finland, Sweden, Germany, France and US in the spring of 2020. Wood was found the most sustainable out of currently available textile raw materials. The highest sustainability rating over wood was given to emerging, waste-based raw materials. Nordic respondents were most pro wood; 90 per cent of Finns and 91 per cent of Swedes consider wood a sustainable textile raw material. Reasons for not finding wood-based textiles appealing were related to both environmental reasons and qualities of the textile material.
“When the Spinnova fibre is made of farmed wood, the raw material value chain is CO2 positive. This means the trees are a larger carbon sink than the lumbering, pulping and logistics combined emit. Therefore, concerns over excessive lumbering and native forest use are mostly unnecessary,” Janne Poranen, Spinnova’s CEO and co-founder, said in a press release.
According to the study, harmful chemicals are seen as the worst environmental problem of the textile industry; 64 per cent considering this an issue. 60 per cent also associated excessive water use a problem of the industry, followed by ocean microplastics, waste and CO2 emissions.
When asked what factors make up a sustainable image of a product, brand sustainability image got the most replies, 54 per cent. Only 29 per cent of respondents thought high price is a sign of sustainability. Environmental certificates were considered an indicator of sustainability by 48 per cent.
“This supports the idea that brand owners should be as transparent as possible about their sustainability efforts and even the environmental impacts of individual products,” Poranen said.
Despite the positive take on wood, only a third of all respondents had experience of wood-based textiles, although man-made cellulosic fibres have been around for decades. However, 55 per cent did consider the idea of wood-based apparel appealing. 
There was a lot of country variance in the attitudes, for example towards crude oil as a textile raw material. Whereas 1 per cent of Finns thought it’s a sustainable raw material, the corresponding proportion of Americans was 26 per cent. Also, 65 per cent of French respondents think cotton is a sustainable raw material, whereas only 29 per cent of Finns think so. 

Spinnova is a Finnish, sustainable fibre innovation company that develops ecological breakthrough technology for manufacturing cellulose-based textile fibre.