What is Tencel® ?
It’s regenerated cellulosic fibre made from the pulp of eucalyptus trees that are grown on sustainably run farms. Tencel® is the brand name for this finished fabric.
why do we love
IT’S CHEMICAL FREE
We think that Tencel is one of the best sustainable fabrics around. The eucalyptus trees it comes from are grown chemical-free. And they’re quick to grow back – so are a brilliant natural, renewable resource. Farms that grow the eucalyptus trees for Tencel hold the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. If you’d like to know more about the certification you can do so here.
IT HAS A CLOSED LOOP SYSTEM
When it comes to turning the pulp into fibre, the process is light on natural resources and energy. Tencel production uses the closed loop system. Chemicals used get recirculated so they’re not released into the atmosphere. And get this – it takes around 20 times less water to produce Tencel than conventional cotton.
There are many aesthetic reasons why we love Tencel too. It’s breathable and strong and it’s extremely efficient at absorbing water. Its fibres have a unique structure meaning they naturally absorb moisture and release it again. This effective moisture absorption enables the wearer to stay cool and comfortable and means less bacteria is able to form. As Tencel fibres have a smooth structure, it is particularly silky against the skin, which helps avoid skin irritations.
Tencel is recyclable and fully biodegradable. It can break down in a matter of days at a waste treatment plant. Considering polyester and acrylic take hundreds of years to decompose, it is clear why Tencel is the winner for us.
- Tencel comes from a natural source, the Eucalyptus tree. These trees grow back with speed, making them very renewable.
- Eucalyptus trees can be grown without genetic manipulation, irrigation, or pesticides
- The fibre production of Tencel uses an eco-friendly, closed loop system
- The process uses about 20 times less water than conventional cotton and is light on energy use
- Tencel is extremely absorbent. Wear it and it’ll respond to your temperature needs. It’s also naturally anti-bacterial
- It’s also super smooth due to the fibre structure and feels gentle on the skin
- It’s 100% biodegradable and recyclable
- Eucalyptus trees grow fast. Though other sustainable crops, like bamboo and hemp, can grow quicker
- A minuscule, harmless amount of waste product in the air and water gets produced in the manufacturing process
What are eucalyptus trees
and how are they grown?
The eucalyptus tree is a fast-growing, evergreen plant which grows to a height of up to 40 metres. There are around 700 different species, mostly found in Australia and Southeast Asia. Several varieties grow in Europe, America and Africa. The eucalyptus we use comes from Europe.
Eucalyptus trees are resilient and renewable. They can be sown on so-called marginal land that’s unsuitable for farming. And in making Tencel, genetic manipulation, irrigation, or pesticides is not used. At harvest time, eucalyptus are cut rather than uprooted, so they grows back quickly.
How are eucalyptus trees
made into fabric?
Our Tencel gets produced in China. The actual Tencel process is a trademarked process that our factory controls. The eucalyptus wood goes through a similar process as other semi-synthetic natural fibres, like our viscous bamboo fabric.
Initially, the eucalyptus wood is harvested, processed into chips, pulped and dried into sheets ready for processing. The sheets are then broken up and dissolved in a non-toxic amine oxide solution. A clear, cellulose viscous liquid is the result. Cellulose is a long chain of linked sugar molecules that gives wood its remarkable strength. It is the main element of plant cell walls, and the basic building block for many textiles, including Tencel.
The long Tencel fibres are produced by forcing this solution through spinnerets dotted with tiny holes. Think of this a bit like a shower head. These long strands are then set in a bath of diluted amine oxide solution, then washed in demineralised water. The stringy fibres that come out of the nozzle get dried, lubricated and carded (or combed) to remove any tangles before. Next, they get compacted using a crimper to give the fibres their bulk and texture. The fibres are then ready to be spun into our soft, light-weight, breathable fabric known as Tencel.
The only chemical used in the Tencel manufacturing process is the non-toxic solvent, amine oxide. This chemical allows us to use a closed loop process where up to 99% of the chemical is continually re-used. This minimises the impact on the environment and preserves energy and water. The waste products in the air and water from the manufacturing process are minimal and considered harmless.
All in all, we think Tencel is a leader in sustainable fabrics. It comes from a natural source, it’s kind on the environment, and it’s recyclable. What more could you want?