Biodegradable Fabric

Everything You Need to Know About Biodegradable Fabric

Last year, I was engaged in a volunteer service to inform people about soil pollution. As part of our campaign, we told people how we are polluting our soil and what.

When it comes to pollution safety, the topic of biodegradable fabric goes hand in hand.

So, what is the biodegradable fabric?

Biodegradable fabric refers to any textile or material that can undergo natural decomposition in the environment without causing a negative impact or residue. Such fabrics are crafted from natural fibers, such as bamboo, cotton, hemp, and linen, and have the ability to decay swiftly without contributing to waste accumulation. 

In this article, I’m going to elaborate on everything you need to know about biodegradable fabric. Let’s start!

Types of biodegradable fabrics

Biodegradable fabrics are made from biodegradable fibers. In this section, I’ll break down all kinds of biodegradable fibers based on their type.

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers are fibers derived directly from nature without any processing. For example, cotton fiber. It’s picked from cotton plants. 

Natural fibers are mostly biodegradable. All natural fibers, however, are not biodegradable.

There are other biodegradable and natural fibers. However, based on usage and importance, here are the top three fibers:

  1. Cotton
  2. Jute
  3. Hemp

Hemp is considered the most eco-friendly fiber. While cotton is a go-to fiber to produce yarn, it’s not entirely biodegradable. 

On the other hand, jute is another completely biodegradable and environmentally friendly fiber.

Let’s learn a little more about each!

1. Cotton

Cotton is not a fully biodegradable fiber. To understand the fiber's properties, you need to understand its biological construction.

Cotton fiber is extracted from the cotton plant, the longest single plant fiber.

The fiber is made up of three layers. They are-

  1. Lumen

  2. Cortex

  3. Cuticle

What does each layer do? Well, the inner layer contains the air, which is a hollow space. This layer makes fiber lightweight and buoyant.

The cuticle is the outer layer of the cotton fiber, and it helps protect the fiber from water and abrasion. This layer affects the biodegradability property. Preventing or reducing the penetration of water from the fiber surface.

The cuticle prevents cotton fiber from absorbing water and resisting abrasion. This keeps the fiber structure intact and prevents it from degrading.

Here’s the most important piece in the puzzle—the middle layer: the cortex. This layer is made of cellulose.

And the cellulose content of cotton fiber is the primary factor that affects its biodegradability. Cellulose is a natural, organic compound that is easily broken down by microorganisms and is highly degradable.

Adopting cellulose in a product can increase its biodegradability. However, cellulose is not 100 percent biodegradable. The environment and a handful of other factors influence the property.

Cotton fiber contains 90-95% cellulose. Therefore, fabrics made from cotton fibers are highly degradable, but not completely.

2. Jute

The fiber is best illustrated as a sustainable, versatile, and strong natural fiber. It’s 100 percent biodegradable as well! Its properties, versatility, and eco-friendly character made it the “golden fiber”.

The eco-friendly and moist, absorbent jute fiber can be used to make a wide range of products, as it is also termed a versatile fiber. After cotton, jute is the second most important plant for procuring vegetable fiber.

Since jute fiber is naturally occurring and procured, it’s renewable and eco-friendly. It’s a 100% biodegradable fiber.

The fiber is made up of cellulose, and you know micro-orgasm can easily break it. Jute fiber can biodegrade in a variety of environments, including soil, water, and compost.

However, the rate at which jute fiber biodegrades will vary depending on the environmental conditions, but it typically takes several months to a few years for jute fiber to completely biodegrade.

Fabric or useful products produced from jute fiber are thus eco-friendly and sustainable.

3. Hemp

So, here’s the king! Yea, you got it right- the best natural fiber for biodegradation.

The fiber has been cultivated and used for thousands of years and is one of the oldest fibers used to produce textile products.

Did you know it’s the strongest natural fiber as well? It’s long, strong, and durable. It’s UV and flame resistant as well.

The fiber is collected from the inner bark of the plant, and it completely breaks down into the soil without harming it as it is a non-toxic fiber.

Hemp fiber can be used in a wide range of products, including clothing, bags, shoes, upholstery, and home textiles. It can also be blended with other fibers, such as cotton or silk, to enhance their strength and durability.

Solely using hemp fiber or blending it with other fibers significantly increases the biodegradability of the produced fabric.

Synthetic Fibers

Now that you know the most biodegradable natural fibers, it’s time to learn about man-made synthetic fibers that are biodegradable.

That’s interesting, right?

In this section, I’ll discuss-

  1. Polylactic Acid (PLA)
  2. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)
  3. Polybutylene succinate (PBS)

1. Polylactic Acid (PLA)

The biodegradable polyester polylactic acid (PLA) is produced using sugarcane or corn starch, two renewable resources. 

It has sparked ardent interest across a variety of industries with its captivating capacity to transform plant-based feedstocks into adaptable and eco-friendly materials.  By harnessing the power of nature, PLA disrupts the traditional reliance on petroleum-based plastics.

PLA is biodegradable, although it might not degrade under certain environmental conditions. 

You must create a favorable environment for it to be biodegradable. To accomplish this, you may want to utilize a home composting facility. 

2. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are biodegradable polyesters synthesized by microorganisms.

They offer a renewable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastics, with versatile applications in packaging, medical devices, and 3D printing.

Challenges include high production costs, but ongoing research aims to optimize processes and explore new feedstocks, highlighting the potential of PHA to reduce plastic pollution and dependence on fossil fuels.

3. Polybutylene succinate (PBS)

Polybutylene succinate (PBS) is a biodegradable polymer derived from renewable resources. 

It has excellent mechanical and thermal properties, making it suitable for packaging, agricultural films, textiles, and disposable products.

It is considered a sustainable alternative to conventional plastics, promoting resource conservation and reducing environmental impact.

What Are The Benefits of Biodegradable Fabric?

You are interested in biodegradable fabric, but what are the actual benefits of using it?

What Are The Benefits of Biodegradable Fabric?

Here are the top benefits of such fabric-

1. Environmental Sustainability

Since this fabric is made up of biodegradable fibers that break down and degrade in the soil, it doesn’t cause soil pollution, keeping the environment safe.

2. Economic Benefits

There are several economic advantages to ecological fabrics. Here are a few

Competitive advantage

The demand for sustainable products is rapidly increasing as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases.

Adopting biodegradable fabrics positions your business as a leader in sustainability, showcasing your commitment to ethical practices and environmental stewardship.

This fosters customer loyalty and attracts like-minded investors and partners.

Also Incorporating biodegradable fabrics into your product line allows you to tap into this growing market, attracting environmentally conscious customers and gaining a competitive edge.

Innovation opportunities

As people become conscious of biodegradable clothing, businesses may innovate different products and marketing strategies.

Streamline production

From a manufacturing perspective, integrating biodegradable fabrics streamlines production processes.

These fabrics are often produced using eco-friendly methods, reducing the use of harmful chemicals and minimizing water and energy consumption.

3 Health benefits

Aside from being environmentally friendly, the fabric is also safe for skin and health.


Fabric made from biodegradable yarn gives better comfort than fabric made from man-made yarn. You can breathe more easily when you wear fabrics made from natural and biodegradable fibers.

Organic cotton, hemp, and Tencel are all kinds of biodegradable fibers that allow more air inside the fabric. Thus, biodegradable fabrics are almost always breathable, soft, and comfortable to wear.

Improved air quality

A biodegradable fabric can help improve air quality by absorbing pollutants. Since they're made from natural fibers, they have a lot of surface area.

Reduced skin irritation

Synthetic fabrics are more likely to irritate the skin than biodegradable fabrics. Due to their natural fibers, they are unlikely to cause allergies.

Reduced exposure to harmful chemicals

Eco-friendly fibers are dyed with natural dyes. So they are less harmful to the environment than synthetic dyes. This reduces the risk of exposure to harmful substances that could harm your health.

Manufacturing Process of Biodegradable Fabric

So, basically, you need to know what the production process looks like if you want to make biodegradable fabrics rather than regular fabrics. Here are some special procedures you will need to follow at different production stages. 

Let’s take a look at them.


At this stage, the fiber needs to be carefully sorted. Make sure you do not mix different lots. At this stage, make sure you remove all kinds of impurities, dirt, and residual chemicals.


The spinning of the biodegradable yarn is no different than regular yarn production. 

Sustainable fiber sourcing is the right thing to do at this stage to produce biodegradable yarn. The general spinning process remains the same.


When producing biodegradable fabric, there are no specific weaving or knitting processes that are exclusive to biodegradable materials. 

The weaving or knitting techniques used for biodegradable fabric are generally similar to those used for regular fabrics.

The main difference lies in the choice of biodegradable fibers used as raw materials.


Unlike the spinning, weaving, and knitting processes, there are a lot of things to do at the finishing stage. 

Choosing non-toxic dyes and chemicals with minimal usage is a key principle of eco-friendly fabric production. 

Non-toxic wax and finishes must be used to make sure the fabric is free from skin irritation and safe for the environment.

Applications of Biodegradable Fabric

There are many potential applications for biodegradable fabrics, including:

  1. Clothing: Biodegradable hessian cloths can be used to make a variety of clothing items, such as shirts, pants, dresses, and shoes. They are more comfortable and breathable.
  2. Home textiles: Biodegradable fabrics are used to make a variety of home textiles, such as bed sheets, towels, and curtains.
  3. Medical textiles: The fabric can also produce medical textiles, such as surgical gowns, wound dressings, bandages, and implants. Biodegradable materials in medical textiles can help reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of harmful medical waste.

Challenges of Biodegradable Fabric

There is no doubt about the upcoming prospect of eco-friendly fabric; there are some challenges there, however.

  1. Limited Availability: The first and probably most acute challenge of biodegradable fabric is its limited availability. As the market is still young, so is the supply.
  2. High Production Costs: Since market demand is still slim, scaling production while keeping the cost minimal is not possible. 
  3. Durability Issues: A few eco-friendly fiber-made fabrics are prone to damage upon additional abrasion.

Biodegradable Fabric and Consumer Awareness

This is the stepping stone and secret sauce to making the biodegradable fabric more available to consumers. Otherwise, the goal of environmental safety through biodegradable fabric won’t have that much impact.

So, what can you do? Here are some ideas -

Educating Consumers on Biodegradable Fabric

Educating consumers about biodegradable fabric is essential to raising awareness and promoting sustainable fashion choices. Here are some key points to consider when educating consumers:

 Here are some of the following consumers should be taught-

  1. What are biodegradable fabric

  2. Types of Biodegradable Fabrics 

  3. Manufacturing Process

  4. Care Instructions

  5. Certification and Labels

Consumer Perception of Biodegradable Fabric

Consumer perception plays a crucial role in the adoption of biodegradable fabrics. Here are some factors that influence consumer perception:

  1. Environmental Awareness
  2. Quality and Durability
  3. Fashion Trends
  4. Price and Accessibility
  5. Brand Transparency

Responsibility of Consumers in Sustainable Fashion

Consumers have a significant role in promoting sustainable fashion. Here are some ways consumers can take responsibility:

  1. Consumer buying decision.
  2. Extended product life cycle.
  3. Second-hand and upcycled fashion.

Future of Biodegradable Fabric

The future of biodegradable fabric largely relies on innovation. To make the most of it, continuous research and development are inevitable. There is a lot of room to make new products and optimize the manufacturing process.

Innovation in novel production techniques, new biodegradable materials, and biotechnology.

Also, a couple of things needed to be changed in collaboration and partnership. Businesses can work on sustainable supply chains, industry collaboration, cross-section collaboration, consumer engagement, etc.


The cellulosic components of natural fiber help fabric degrade in nature. Some man-made fibers are also eco-friendly but degrade under certain conditions. Bio-friendly fabrics are environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and good for the skin. 

Despite the growing interest in organic fabric, it is still an emerging topic. There is plenty of room for improvement. In which area of textiles, do you want to utilize decomposable fabric? 

I think the future of textiles will be dominated by degradable fabric in the coming days- We will have rules and restrictions from the government and international organizations to produce it properly. However, people should be more aware of it for their own sake.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the biodegradable fabric?

Biodegradable fabric is a special kind of fabric made from decomposable natural fiber.

2. What are the benefits of biodegradable fabric?

 The benefits of using biodegradable fabric include-

  1. Environmental safety.

  2. Economical.

  3. Good for health.

3. How is a biodegradable fabric made?

Biodegradable fabric is made from biodegradable fiber. Generally, natural fibers are biodegradable. Once you have the bio-friendly yarn, you can process it using sustainable manufacturing techniques.

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