The difference between Ecovero and Tencel is hard to spot. It takes a keen eye, and someone who really knows their stuff.
Ecovero and Tencel are made by Austrian manufacturer Lenzing AG. Both fabrics are created from renewable wood fibres, are fully biodegradable and produced in a closed loop system.
In truth the differences are subtle, but are there.
We know we all need to make a change. With clothing and footwear contributing to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than international shipping and flights combined, either material is a great alternative to traditional fabrics.
Tencel and Ecovero are much better for the planet than viscose or regular cotton. So which one is best?
We have found that Tencel is slightly better. Its processing is less chemically intensive, made using an organic compound to dissolve the wood. But before we get into the details, let’s start with the basics.
So, what is Ecovero fabric?
Ecovero is a type of viscose fibre. This means it is made from wood, which is broken down into a pulp and spun into a soft yarn.
Unlike viscose, Ecovero is made from sustainably harvested wood certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes).
Ecovero is manufactured by Austrian manufacturer Lenzing AG using a closed loop system. It releases 50% less CO2 than regular viscose production, and is much less water intensive.
As a result, Ecovero is an incredibly sustainable fabric that is good for the planet. It also feels soft to touch and is breathable, making it perfect for anything from base layers to sports clothing or even bedding.
So far, you might be thinking this sounds very similar to Tencel. So what is the difference between Ecovero and Tencel?
Ecovero and Tencel are both sustainable fabrics made from wood pulp, but are actually two different types of fabric with some key differences.
The main difference between Tencel and Ecovero is at the chemical treatment stage.
Ecovero is a traditional viscose fabric. This means it is made through a chemically intensive process, using harmful chemicals like sodium hydroxide, sulphuric acid and caustic soda.
Tencel is not a viscose fabric but lyocell. This is the third generation of viscose fibre production. Instead of harmful chemicals, Tencel uses an organic amine oxide solution (NMMO process) to break down the wood fibre and turn it into pulp.
Using an organic solvent requires fewer intensive chemicals. It is also easier to recycle and reuse.
Lenzing is able to recover over 99% of this solvent in its closed loop system, meaning no waste is dumped back into the ecosystem.
This makes the chemical processing of Tencel less intensive and better for the environment.
The similarities between Ecovero and Tencel are easier to spot, and that’s because there are many. Remember, they are both made under the same roof by Austrian manufacturer Lenzing AG.
Here are some of the key similarities between Ecovero and Tencel:
Both Tencel and Ecovero are made from sustainably sourced wood. More than 99% of woodis from sustainable forestry that is PEFC or FSC certified.
This is good news for the environment, as around 30% of traditional viscose and rayon wood used in fashion is sourced from endangered or ancient forests.
Lenzing sources wood used to make its fabric locally. More than half of all raw materials used comes from Austrian forests, with a smaller part from other European countries.
This reduces transportation emissions, which are a significant part of the carbon footprint involved in clothes manufacturing.
48% of Austria is covered by forests. Lenzing uses sustainable forest management to guarantee these woods can be enjoyed for generations to come. In all countries where Lenzing sources its wood, reforestation exceeds the quantities harvested for sustainable usage by a third.
Both Ecovero and Tencel are produced using a closed loop system.
The production of viscose fibres (Ecovero being one) is incredibly complex and requires harsh chemicals. Gases such as Carbon disulfide (CS2) and Hydrogen Sulfide (HS2) are typically released through this process.
Lenzing’s closed loop production is able to prevent these gases from being released into the atmosphere. Instead they are recovered, converted back into the production process to be used as raw materials.
This is one of the key differences between Ecovero and Tencel. Instead of using chemicals to help dissolve the wood into pulp, an organic solvent NMMO is used. Lenzing is able to recover over 99% of this valuable solvent to be used again in the production process.
This is why Lenzing’s lyocell fabric (TencelTM) is particularly environmentally friendly
Lenzing AG’s manufacturing facilities in Europe are almost completely self-sufficient. This is due to their biorefinery concept.
Once the valuable raw materials have been extracted from the wood, the remainder can be used to generate thermal energy and electricity. The process has been optimised so that they even produce more bioenergy than they need for pulp and fibre production.
Both Ecovero and Tencel pride themselves on having a low water requirement, especially when compared to regular cotton.
Ecovero uses 50% less water than standard viscose, and compared to regular cotton the difference is even greater. A 150g cotton T-shirt takes 210L more water than Ecovero to grow and produce.
Sustainably managed forests require no artificial irrigation. On the contrary, they help protect against flooding and provide a more reliable supply.
Both Tencel and Ecovero have natural origins, as they are cellulosic fibres originally made from wood. This means that they are biodegradable.
With a rubbish truck full of clothing famously being burned or landfilled every second, this is a huge advantage of Ecovero and Tencel.
Ecovero and Tencel have both been recognised for many sustainable benefits.
Both are sourced almost exclusively from FSC and PEFC certified forests. As products of natural origins, they are also both recognised by TÜV Austria Belgium NV as fully biodegradable and compostable under normal home conditions. So you can be sure they will revert fully back to nature.
The result of their sustainable success… both brands have won the EU Ecolabel certification. This marks their environmental quality, having a lower impact throughout their lifecycle.
Ecovero feels soft, breathable and comfortable to wear. It gently glides along your skin as if it were silk. If you have tried a tencel T-shirt, it likely feels similar.
Whilst the characteristics of Ecovero and Tencel are similar, Tencel is slightly better at moisture wicking. This makes it a great choice for sportswear or underlayers that are in close contact to the skin.
Both Ecovero and Tencel have a good drape, are wrinkle resistant and don’t crease easily.
Ultimately it will boil down to personal preference which one you prefer the feel of.
If you have tried Ecovero or Tencel recently, please do leave your thoughts in the comments section below. We’d love to know how you found the material.
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