Tencel, by Lenzing, has been making a name for itself over the last 10 years as an extremely sustainable fabric. The production process is very similar to its parent fiber Rayon. Both are derived from the wood chips of eucalyptus and beech trees and later made into a pulp. The difference between rayon and Tencel is the chemical solution that turns the wood pulp into a fiber. In rayon production, the solution is chemically intensive and roughly 40-60% of the solution needs to be discarded after production. In Tencel production, the NMMO solution is 99% recyclable and can be reused in further production of Tencel. The remaining 1% can easily be broken down using biological wastewater treatment.
Tencel uses 74% less non-renewable energy and 64% less CO2 compared to polyester. When compared to conventional cotton, Tencel uses over 90% less water. The state of the art facilities at Lenzing in Austria and Czech Republic are almost completely rung on renewable energy with most of that energy being derived from biogenic carbon. They even net carbon and send it back to the grid. Lastly, the best part about Tencel is that it’s 100% biodegradable and can take as little as 16 week to compost in soil.