Lyocell: Its environmental impact and how it is produced
Lyocell is an artificial fiber also known as tencel. This fiber used because it is environmentally friendly, as well as resistant and breathable; it is produced from cellulose and has a consistency similar to honey, before being processed.
The lyocell is made from the eucalyptus tree and used by the textile clothing and furniture industry, and is then used to produce clothing, technical textiles and furniture. The industry also uses lyocell for other production, such as a particular type of paper, personal care products, filter systems, workwear or synthetic leather.
The first production of lyocell was in England in 1998, but it was only marketed in the early 2000s and then produced on a large scale by an Austrian company.
Let’s discover how the lyocell is made and the characteristics of this innovative fiber.
Lyocell is an artificial synthetic fibre produced with cellulose, therefore biodegradable, from eucalyptus wood, mostly from South Africa, with a good production efficiency: Only half of an acre of eucalyptus forest produces a ton of lyocell fibre, which is one fifth of the land/production ratio of cotton, for example.
As for the characteristics of Lyocell, we find excellent resistance, good breathability of the fabric and the remarkable ability to absorb moisture. Lyocell is also hypoallergenic, because it can filter out bacteria and pollutants. The fibre produced is smooth and elastic, unlike cotton.
Speaking of resistance, we notice that lyocell fabrics withstand washing perfectly up to 40°C, while when the temperature rises, for example up to 60°C, we have a fabric shrinkage of about 5%.
The indications for the treatment of garments are not different from those recommended for cotton. If we have already seen the washing temperatures (even the washing machine), the suggestion is to rinse it with cold water and dry at a low temperature, to prevent the fabric from stiffening.
It does not require ironing, but we can still use an iron at low temperature and without using steam, which can stain the fabric.
Finally, let’s keep it in a cool and ventilated place, let’s avoid plastic bags or containers of this kind, which can damage the fabric by forming moths or molds.
Opinions on lyocell are partly divided as regards the manufacturing process: while it is a green product with low environmental impact, it requires considerable energy consumption during production. It should be noted, however, that no chemicals are used at this stage, apart from a non-toxic solvent, so that the pollution resulting from the process (e.g. waste water) has only a very minor impact.