MAGAZINE October 13th, 2022

WSM INTERVIEWS - TENCEL

TENCEL™ is a registered trademark of the Austrian company Lenzing, producer of cellulosic fibres since the 1930s. Committed to a more sustainable production for more than sixty years, Lenzing continues to create ecological fibers derived from botanic, biodegradable and compostable origin. At WSM, it presented the different types and applications of TENCEL™ fibers, whose silky and transformative soul also goes well with recycled materials. We met with Carlo Covini, Business Development Manager for Italy and Switzerland.

When did Lenzing start working on sustainability and how did the idea of sustainability itself evolve during the years?

«We are talking about a company that produces fibers since the 1930s and that since the 1970s, was pushed by local legislation to produce zero emissions, respecting the water of the local river as well as all the surrounding territory, because in the middle of a touristic area particularly popular and frequented by people like Klimt and Mahler. The relationship with the topic of sustainability starts in really unsuspecting times. Lenzing in the meantime evolved to become a bio refinery, extracting sugars, acetic acid and cellulose from wood. From this substance, which reselbles paper, are produced viscosa, Modal and Lyocell. Specifically, when you hear about TENCEL™, it is the Lenzing brand that embraces the productions of both Modal and Lyocell».

What is the difference between Lyocell and Modal?

«The production technologies are slightly different, as the fiber’s toughness. Modal is usally very soft, finds a perfect application in underwear, while the Lyocell fiber is much more silky and tenacious, and goes well in denim and in shirts. Since it works well with cotton, wool, hemp and, basically, any fiber, it can be interpreted in various ways».

In what ways is the Lyocell fiber particularly sustainable? 

«Extracted from responsible cellulose, the Lyocell fiber is the result of a closed process where the organic solvent used is recovered for 99,9%».

Where does the raw material come from?

«It starts from FSC or PFC certified forests wood. The Lenzing plant is sourced from the responsible forest of north Europe, tendend to km0, in Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. We also import eucalypt cellulose from South Africa. In the meantime we invested in two new plants to produce cellulose, one in Brazil and one in Czech Republic».

Lyocell TENCEL Luxe is your last innovation, what is it about?

«As Lyocell we usually produce the bow, which is mixed with others fibers like cotton and wool; now, Lyocell is also available in the continuous thread version, with which we make more silky products with a richer and brighter appearance. This has allowed us to reach new standards of pleasant touch and new applications, such as typical evening dresse».

Are your fibers circular as well? 

«At the moment we are circular with cotton scraps, thanks to TENCEL™ with Refibra technology. Surely, our plants can also be calibrated to regenerate cellulosic fibers but since all of our products are biodegradable and compostable, both in the marine environment and the soil, they already return directly to nature».

What is the patent or innovation you are most proud of?

«Surely TENCEL™ with Refibra technology, which I just mentioned, with which we extract cellulose from cotton waste to obtain virgin fiber; and the continuous thread, which allows us to enter in different sectors, with more serious and particular products, something that was not possible before. We are also satisfied with our partnership with other sector operators both for making natural dyes and for making a mix of fiber with hemp and linen, whose naturally dry texture, meeting TENCEL™, finds incredible softness. Another achievement that really gives us satisfaction is the collaboration that we carry out with the whole world of mechanical recycling, which usually originates short fibers not too comfortable in contact with the skin. Putting our fiber, that is very silky and soft, in it you can get a beautiful yarn, while having the bases of other recycled fibers such as wool or cotton».

What is the challenge for the future?

«Pushing in all directions to be as sustainable as possible, putting pressure on the entire supply chain. We have worked to get to zero emissions, following the inputs of the United Nations, and now we want to understand how to consistently activate the entire textile chain, up to the finished product».

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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