Last update:

PT South Pacific Viscose (SPV) Plant, Indonesia

Despite gaining a high ranking on forest issues, investigations show that PT South Pacific Viscose might be linked to poisoning of villagers as well as air and water pollution.


Background: Viscose (or rayon)  has often been marketed as a more ecologically sustainable alternative to polyester because unlike polyester which is made from petrochemicals, viscose is made from cellulose. It is also praised by some fashion brands because it requires less water to produce compared with cotton. Viscose is found in a huge variety of clothes and is used by almost every major fashion brand to some extent. Although not inherently unsustainable, it is the production process of viscose that presents a very problematic story. Basically, wood pulp is extracted from wood, then turned into viscose staple fibre (VSF) and filament yarn through a highly chemical process using carbon disulphide. Viscose production faces a three pronged issue: the risk of deforestation of ancient forests, occupational hazards of factory workers who are exposed to highly dangerous toxins that have been linked to neurological damage, and heavy contamination that results from poor waste management of viscose factories, not only polluting nearby waters and air, but causing widespread illnesses to villagers in the vicinity of factories. [1][2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:PT South Pacific Viscose (SPV) Plant, Indonesia
State or province:West Java
Location of conflict:Cicadas, Purwakarta, Purwakarta Regency
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Chemical industries
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Manufacturing activities
Specific commodities:Manufactured Products
Chemical products
Viscose, Sulphuric Acid
Project Details and Actors
Project details

PT South Pacific Viscose has been producing viscose staple fibres (VSF) and sodium sulfate since 1982. They also generate carbon disulfide and sulphuric acid. In 2010 they began their fourth production line which increased their capacity of viscose fibres to 240,000 tonnes per year and sodium sulfate capacity to 140,000 tonnes per year (at a cost of 150 million USD) [9][10]. Their fifth production line, cost over USD 130 million and the plant’s capacity as of December 2016 is 323,000 tonnes of viscose fibres per year [9][11].

Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:02/01/1999
Company names or state enterprises:Lenzing AG from Austria - Owner of plant
PT. South Pacific Viscose (SPV) from Indonesia - owner of plant
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:WALHI,
Wahana Pemerhati Lingkungan Indonesia (WAPLI)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The plant is still in operation and SPV claim that they have no faults in their procedures and that their plant is safe and non polluting.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Blanc, P.D. 2016, Fake silk: the lethal history of viscose rayon, Yale University Press, Cumberland.

[1] Changing Markets Foundation 2017, Dirty Fashion: How pollution in the global textiles supply chain is making viscose toxic
[click to view]

[3] World Socialist Website 1999, Workers Struggles: Asia, "Hundreds attack two factories for environmental pollution", 9 January 1999.
[click to view]

[4] South Pacific Viscose 2017, "SPV Community care"
[click to view]

[5] Roodman 2012, "Microcredit doesn’t end poverty, despite all the hype", The Washington Post
[click to view]

[6] South Pacific Viscose 2017, "Sustainability: Waste Water Treatment"
[click to view]

[7] Tempo 2006, "Tercemar Limbah Pabrik Warga Minta Direlokasi", 31 July 2006
[click to view]

[8] Republika 2016, "BPLHD Purwakarta Investigasi Penyebab Keracunan Limbah Pabrik", 3 November 2006
[click to view]

[9] South Pacific Viscose 2017, "Company Profile"
[click to view]

[10] Fibre 2 Fashion 2010, "PT. South Pacific Viscose opens fourth production line", 11 May 2010
[click to view]

[11] Lenzing 2017, "Locations: Indonesia"
[click to view]

Other comments:This sheet mostly draws from the report by Changing Markets Foundation 2017, "Dirty Fashion: How pollution in the global textiles supply chain is making viscose toxic"
Meta information
Contributor:Mariko Takedomi Karlsson, research intern @ EnvJustice, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3176
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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