Tencel® is the brand name for a biodegradable fabric made from wood pulp cellulose.
Tencel is created from the lyocell fiber, and is becoming increasingly popular as an eco-friendly alternative to fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and even cotton. In practice, many fabrics combine various fibers so it’s common to see Tencil combined with linen, rayon, lycra, micro denier polyester or cotton. So, some of these blends will result in a less-eco-friendly fabric.
Many people who buy Tencel products rave about it’s luxurious feel so this can only be a good thing for Tencel and other lyocell fabrics.
How Eco-Friendly is Tencel?
Tencel / lyocell has quite an eco-friendly manufacturing process, with one or two possible exceptions.
The fiber is produced via process which uses a non-toxic solvent that is 99 percent recoverable and recyclable. Also, no toxic chemical products are produced during the process, which means there are no toxic fumes released into the atmosphere. Bleach is not required when manufacturing Tencil, which sets it apart from other fabrics such as cotton. So far, so good.
The biggest disadvantage of Tencil and other lyocell fabrics is that they don’t dye very easily. This may lead the manufacturer to use chemical processes, enzyme baths, or other treatments that aren’t eco-friendly.
Another disadvantage of Tencil / lyocell is that the fabrics have a tendency to fibrillate when wet. This may lead a manufacturer to treat it so that it doesn’t fibrillate. This treatment may not be so eco-friendly. If a manufacturer doesn’t treat the fabric, it will often be labeled as “dry clean only”.
Biodegradability / Recyclability
Tencil / lyocell is 100% biodegradable, and will decompose within 8 days under the right conditions. Products made from tencil and other lyocell fabrics can also be recycled.
Where can I buy Tencel Products?
Tencel products are becoming popular so you might find some in your local clothing store. You can also purchase Tencel products online. Here are some examples:
- Here are some tencel products at Amazon.com
- You can find some Tencel clothes at The Öko Box
- You can also find Tencel clothes ZonaClothes (order by mail or phone)