We are commonly asked, ‘is bamboo towelling organic’ and if so why does it not come with an organic certificate in the same way our organic cotton towelling does?
The reason for this is due to the way in which bamboo towelling is manufactured. Unlike towelling made from cotton, bamboo towelling needs to first be turned into a ‘viscose’ in order that the cellulose can be extracted and turned into fibres for producing and weaving towelling fabrics.
During the ‘viscose’ process, the bamboo is exposed to various chemicals for the pulp of the bamboo to be dissolved and cellulose separated. Because of this chemical formula for extracting cellulose and the chemical processes that the raw bamboo crop goes through, the process means that bamboo fabrics are considered ‘man-made fibres.’
A fibre which has been classified as a ‘man-made’ product cannot also be considered organic and for this reason the main certification bodies do not recognise bamboo as an organic product and we are therefore unable to have the fabrics certified by any internationally recognised bodies.
But I have seen others labelling bamboo as ‘organic’?
The viscose process outlined above does not mean however that the bamboo crop from which the bamboo towelling is produced was not organic in nature or grown organically.
On the contrary, our bamboo crop is grown organically, without pesticides and without the need for harmful crop rotations. The fact that the bamboo is then processed through a scientific process (the closed-loop process) simply means that we can’t apply the organic label in the same way in which for example cotton and other fibres can have an internationally recognised certification assigned to them.
Bamboo towelling can be labelled as having been grown from organic crops, but a recognised certification for example from GOTS, or the Soil Association cannot be used to reinforce this claim, simply because such certifications do not currently exist for the reasons outlined above.
The advantages of using bamboo towelling include that is more sustainable to grow than cotton and other fibres, requires no pesticides or crop rotations, requires less water and absorbs more carbon dioxide than cotton crops.