When producing clothes, the fashion industry uses a wide variety of materials. Some are natural, like cotton, some are synthetic, like polyester. Some are better for the environment than others, and some, like wool and silk, are animal-derived. Some are said to be better alternatives to other materials.
And cupro might be one of those better alternatives. Cupro is said to be a more sustainable and ethical alternative to silk, and its popularity has been increasing in the past couple of years.
But what is cupro fabric? How is it made? Is it really more sustainable and ethical? The Good On You team tells you everything there is to know about the mysterious textile.
What is Cupro?
Cupro is basically a “regenerated cellulose” fabric made from cotton waste. It is made using the teeny tiny silky cotton fibres, known as cotton linter, that stick out of the cotton seed and that are too small to spin.
The linter is dissolved into a cuprammonium solution, which is a mixture of copper and ammonium, before being spun into fibre. Like Tencel and Modal, Cupro is a plant-based material that is chemically processed to produce the fabric.
First invented in the 1900s in Germany, Cupro is also commonly known as “Bemberg” (from the German manufacturer, J.P. Bemberg) and is now owned by Japanese manufacturer Asahi Kasei, which is now the only manufacturer of Cupro.
Is Cupro Sustainable?
First of all, Cupro, is a by-product of cotton production. We know by now that cotton production is a very wasteful and intensive process. It requires a massive amount of water and pesticides when it’s not organic. So using every bit of the cotton plant helps reduce waste.
Cupro is also 100% plant-based, which means that, unlike silk, which comes from silkworms, it is vegan and cruelty-free. Plus, unlike silk again, it is machine washable, which is more eco-friendly than dry cleaning!
Another benefit of it being derived from plants is that it is biodegradable and has the potential to be easily recycled.
And if you’re worried about the chemicals used in production, know that, much like Tencel and Modal, Cupro is manufactured in a closed-loop system, which means that the chemicals and wastewater can be reused.
Cupro appears to be an environmentally-friendly and cruelty-free alternative to silk, but at Good On You, we always recommend you check a brand before you buy from it. Look for transparency and if the brand is giving information about where its Cupro is made from and how it’s handled. It’s also important to consider the working conditions and the manufacturing when thinking about the sustainability of a fabric. Be sure to choose brands which are transparent and open to make sure you’re making the most ethical choice.
Here are some brands using Cupro that we’ve rated as ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ by Good On You: