EcoVero is a fabric first produced by the Austrian company Lenzing from semi-synthetic polymers in 2017. It's a branded name for viscose, a regenerated cellulosic fiber in the family of rayon, similar to modal, acetate, cupro, and lyocell.
Lenzing EcoVero fabric is often used in the fashion industry to make affordable clothing. It's considered an eco-friendly material, even if more healthy and sustainable alternatives exist.
EcoVero fabric has a very soft hand feel and luxurious appearance. It's manufactured using natural and renewable raw materials, filaments of cellulose made of wood pulp extracted from trees.
The main advantages of Lenzing EcoVero compared to natural fibers such as cotton are low costs and water requirements.
Here is everything you need to know about Lenzing EcoVero fabric, its uses, manufacturing, properties, downsides, environmental impact, and sustainable alternatives.
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What is Lenzing EcoVero?
EcoVero is a man-made cellulosic fiber in the family of rayon and the most sustainable viscose fiber at the time of its conception. It's considered a semi-synthetic material and is very cheap to produce.
Lenzing produces EcoVero fibers by solubilizing high-quality cellulose extracted from plants or wood. EcoVero is a special material, produced under strict environmental standards.
EcoVero is a modified version of viscose with a lower environmental impact. But it's more expensive than viscose rayon or cotton, and its manufacturing method uses more energy than processing natural fibers.
In 2017, Lenzing used technological innovation to enhance textile products to a new quality standard. It made the first EcoVero fiber by improving conventional viscose production processes.
Today, Lenzing is one of the most well-known manufacturers of viscose. EcoVero is a trademark of Lenzing, similar to Tencel lyocell, Lenzing Modal, Modal COLOR, and MicroModal AIR.
But many other manufacturers make their viscose versions in Europe, as well as in many East-Asian countries like India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Japan, and China.
Lenzing EcoVero fabric applications
Lenzing EcoVero fabric is used in the fashion industry to produce clothing and accessories as it's smooth, sheen, and affordable. EcoVero resembles luxurious silk.
In the textile and apparel industry, EcoVero fabrics make knitwear, sportswear, hats, suits, blouses, evening dresses, formal shirts, coats, sweaters, pajamas, and undergarments.
Lenzing EcoVero is also used in homeware, furniture, upholstery, carpets, bathrobes, towels, drapes, bed sheets, curtains, and home decor, like other soft and luxurious fabrics.
Man-made cellulosic fibers like modal, acetate, viscose, cupro, or lyocell are slowly replacing petroleum-based synthetic fibers such as nylon, acrylic, and polyester.
The market for Lenzing EcoVero fabrics is expected to slightly rise in the coming years, as new apparel and home furnishing applications develop, especially in China.
Although EcoVero can be used alone, it's often blended with other types of fibers such as polyester, nylon, cotton, wool, silk, spandex, and more to lower raw material costs.
Many fashion brands around the world choose Lenzing EcoVero fabrics to create affordable clothes. EcoVero is used in cheaply produced garments as the primary fiber content or a substantial part of the fiber composition.
Every year, 6.7 million tons of man-made cellulosic fibers are produced globally, according to Lenzing. They account for 6.2% of all fiber production worldwide.
Viscose rayon is the most widely used semi-synthetic fabric. It has around 79% market share with 5.3 million tons produced in 2018, as reported by the Textile Exchange.
How does Lenzing produce EcoVero fibers?
A lot of chemicals and water are required to condition wood pulp, treat and dissolve cellulose fibers, and wash the regenerated viscose fibers.
Luckily, Lenzing invests heavily in EcoVero viscose manufacturing processes to make them one of the most sustainable fibers in the textile industry.
EcoVero is made with certified and controlled wood sources and produced with significantly lower fossil energy use and water than generic viscose.
Lenzing fibers are derived from sustainable wood pulp and meet high environmental standards throughout their life cycle: from raw material extraction to production, distribution, and disposal.
EcoVero is manufactured by deconstructing wood pulp into a purified fluffy white cellulose using chemicals such as carbon disulfide, sulfuric acid, ammonia, acetone, or caustic soda.
The resulting cellulosic solution is extruded by spinning. Spinnerets transform the viscous solution into filaments that are finally spun into EcoVero viscose fibers.
Spinning is a manufacturing process used to create polymer fibers like EcoVero.
It's a specific form of extrusion that employs a spinneret to produce multiple continuous filaments. The various types of spinning are wet, dry, dry jet-wet, melt, gel, and electrospinning.
Lenzing produces EcoVero fiber via wet spinning, the oldest type of spinning. Many polymers use this manufacturing process as they need to be dissolved in a solvent to be spun.
During the wet spinning extrusion process, the polymer is dissolved and extruded through several thousand holes into a large spin bath, washing rolls, and drying rolls.
After being purified and extended to make long filaments, EcoVero fibers are ready to be spun into threads. Making extended filaments is an important step in fiber production.
Fiber extension is a crucial process to make commercial textiles. It creates EcoVero fibers many times longer than their original length, which increases production efficiency and lowers the overall cost.
Once spun into yarn, Lenzing ships EcoVero viscose fibers to textile manufacturers who weave them into various fabrics to create apparel and other applications.
Lenzing EcoVero fabric properties
Lenzing EcoVero is very soft, comfortable, lightweight, breathable, durable, and anti-bacterial. It's a great material for everyday clothing, as well as sportswear.
EcoVero fibers are very pleasant to the touch, water-absorbent, and dry quickly. And they are also resistant to moths and mildew.
Lenzing EcoVero fabrics drape and hang well. They have good resistance to wrinkling and pilling, multiple sheens, and color options.
However, EcoVero fabrics don't resist high temperatures. They have low thermal stability and will lose longevity when exposed directly to UV and sunlight.
EcoVero fabric advantages and disadvantages
Here are some of the best advantages of Lenzing EcoVero fabrics:
- Good elasticity
- Good tensile strength
- Good resilience
- Good durability
- Good pilling resistance
- Good wrinkle resistance
- Easy to wash
- High comfort and softness
- A luxurious look and hand feel
- Moth and fungus resistance
The main downsides of using Lenzing EcoVero fibers are:
- Low thermal stability
- Low heat resistance
- Low abrasion resistance
- Low chemical protection
- Low resistance to UV and sunlight
Lenzing EcoVero fabric certifications
Some of the best certification standards for textiles apply to Lenzing EcoVero viscose.
Textile standards ensure that textile production uses environmentally friendly, sustainable processes, and socially responsible working conditions.
They guarantee that fabric manufacturing has the least possible impact on people, the environment, the animals, and uses resources responsibly.
Lenzing EcoVero is a biobased fiber certified with the internationally recognized EU Ecolabel.
EcoVero fibers are also biodegradable and compostable, as certified by TÜV Austria for industrial, home, soil, freshwater, and marine conditions.
Lenzing uses wood and pulp that comes from natural forests and sustainably managed plantations. Lenzing EcoVero fabric is available PEFC or FSC certified.
The EU Ecolabel (EC Regulation n. 66/2010) is a reference for consumers who want to help reduce pollution by buying more environmentally friendly products.
It's a trademark of the European Union that certifies environmental quality and ecological performance. The standard is awarded to products and services that have a lower environmental impact than comparable products.
The EU Ecolabel makes it easier for consumers to choose high-quality, environmentally friendly, and healthier products. It certifies that the product has a low impact on the environment throughout its entire lifespan.
Textile production is often responsible for massive deforestation, destruction of ecosystems, and carbon emissions.
Sustainable forest management is necessary to improve the eco-friendliness of man-made cellulosic fibers.
Founded in 1993, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international member-led organization that sets the FSC standards for responsible forest management and chain of custody.
The FSC is currently working with key players in the industry to achieve complete certified textile supply chains to allow FSC labels on apparel.
FSC forest management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that benefits the lives of local people and workers and preserves biological diversity while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
Any forest operation must adhere to ten principles before it can receive FSC forest management certification. These principles have been developed to be relevant to all kinds of forest ecosystems and applicable worldwide.
They ensure the monitoring of forest management environmental and social impacts, as well as high conservation values to community relations and workers’ rights.
PEFC international standards are another certification for sustainable forest management. Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization providing third-party certification.
FSC forest management certification is often too expensive for small forest owners. They choose the PEFC certification system as it differs in the way inspections are carried.
PEFC aims to save forests for the future and protect them against destruction. The organization is composed of various stakeholders, including industry associations, trade unions, nature, and environmental organizations.
FSC is the more common certification, but both are reputable and very similar. Some forests carry both FSC and PEFC forest management certifications.
How to care for Lenzing EcoVero fabrics
Taking good care of your clothes is one of the best ways to live more sustainably and ensure that they last longer. Give special attention to Lenzing EcoVero fabrics, as they are delicate and easily melt.
Extend the life of your clothes and the time you can wear them by taking good care of them and avoiding common mistakes. You can limit pressure on natural resources, reduces waste, pollution, and emissions.
Before washing EcoVero fabrics, read the care instructions that can be found on the care tag. This way, you can easily determine if the EcoVero fabric is washable.
The washing instructions may vary depending on the fabric’s blend. Pure EcoVero fabrics generally need to be hand washed. Cleanse and rinse EcoVero fibers in cold water.
Semi-synthetic EcoVero fabrics made with blends of EcoVero with other fibers are usually easier to wash. They can be washed in the washing machine on the cool wash setting.
To save water, energy, and preserve the quality of your garment, it's best to wash clothes made of EcoVero in cold temperatures. It saves energy and prevents fabrics from melting.
You can place Lenzing EcoVero fabrics in the washing machine but with a temperature lower than 40 degrees Celcius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Don't use any chlorine-based or strong detergent and use a gentle cycle to avoid high spin speeds. Make sure the washing speed doesn't exceed 600 revolutions per minute. Otherwise, EcoVero fabrics may become very creased.
To avoid dye bleeding, make sure to soak the fabric for the least amount of time.
The more sustainable way of drying your clothes is to hang them to dry.
Do not dry EcoVero fabrics in a tumble drier. They have very low thermal resistance and will melt under high temperatures.
Place them on a line in fresh air rather than using a dryer. It preserves the quality of your garments and saves an enormous amount of energy, carbon emissions, and money.
You can also lay the fabric down on a towel for a while, then flip it over. Or you can hang it up on a hanger to help it dry naturally.
Iron your clothes only when it's necessary. If you decide to iron EcoVero fabrics or EcoVero blends, select the lowest temperature possible to prevent any damage.
Iron the fabric through a damp cloth if possible. Lenzing EcoVero fibers can easily melt and too much ironing will eventually damage the fabric.
EcoVero doesn't resist chemicals very well. Keep chemical-based glues, perfume, and nail polish remover, and alcohol-based solvents far away from clothes made of modal textiles.
Don't use acetone or organic solvents to remove stains either. They will dissolve EcoVero fibers and cause irreversible damage to the garment.
Is Lenzing EcoVero sustainable?
Like generic viscose, EcoVero production involves toxic solvents. In Europe and the United States, environmental regulations have made viscose rayon production more expensive than it used to be.
The global non-profit organization Canopy reports that viscose fiber production is associated with massive deforestation and isn't eco-friendly in many cases.
So does the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which is actively working to stop rainforest destruction and human rights abuses through its Out of Fashion campaign.
Many viscose fabrics come from logging in tropical rainforest areas. Every year, 120 million trees are logged for fabrics including rayon, viscose, modal, and other trademarked textiles.
If the trend continues, deforestation due to man-made cellulosic fiber production could double by 2025, as stated in Canopy's Hot Button Report.
Luckily, Lenzing EcoVero is arguably the most sustainable viscose fiber. Canopy ranked Lenzing as one of the best performing viscose producers worldwide for its sustainable wood and pulp sourcing practices. But many viscose fibers on the market are less transparent.
Even if cellulose comes from natural renewable materials unlike petroleum-based fibers, viscose production can be very polluting and wasteful.
Viscose production in poorly regulated facilities not only damages the nearby environment but also endangers workers' health. Acids and other toxic chemicals can easily leak into waterways and pollute water sources.
Manufacturing fabrics from plants or wood requires heavy processing. A lot of viscose fabrics are created with chemically-intensive processes harmful to people and the environment.
EcoVero production requires a lot of energy, water, and toxic chemicals, such as caustic soda, carbon disulfide, sulfuric acid, and more.
Unless chemicals are handled carefully, toxic substances used in EcoVero manufacturing can seriously harm workers.
They are highly corrosive substances that severely burn the skin and eyes. They irritate the nose and throat, harm the nervous system, and cause severe lung damage at high concentrations.
Through skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation, these highly dangerous substances can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, nausea, and headaches.
Lenzing produces EcoVero under an environmentally friendly process, 100% chlorine-free. More than 60% of the trees used to produced EcoVero fibers come from Austria and Bavaria to ensure lower emissions.
Lenzing EcoVero guarantees up to 50% lower carbon dioxide emissions to air, helping combat climate change, based on a calculation using the Higg Material Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) tools provided by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC).
EcoVero also allows water savings up to 50% compared to generic viscose production. Lenzing manufacturing is highly efficient and cleans wastewater before returning it to nature.
However, EcoVero isn't certified by internationally recognized health and safety standards that test textiles for harmful substances, such as Bluesign and Oeko-Tex.
There is no evidence that hazardous chemicals used in Lenzing EcoVero production are recovered, recycled, and reused.
EcoVero fibers also contribute to microfiber pollution that escapes through our plumbing and sewage systems.
A study published in 2011 by the American Chemical Society reveals that man-made cellulosic fibers account for an important share of microfiber pollution.
Microfibers facilitate the transfer of pollutants, monomers, and additives to organisms with uncertain consequences for their health.
The water expelled from our washing machines transports these fibers to rivers, lakes, and oceans. The amount of microfibers entering the world's oceans is increasing at an alarming rate.
Because of the various processing stages during EcoVero production, EcoVero fibers can take between a few weeks to a few years to biodegrade depending on the environmental conditions.
Cellulose biodegrades quickly under six weeks with optimal soil moisture of -33 kPa and soil temperature of approximately 25 ºC, as pointed out by recent research.
However, researchers also report that the more fabrics are treated, the slower they decompose. And a lot of semi-synthetic fabrics like EcoVero receive heavy treatments to make them softer, stronger, and elastic.
Sustainable alternatives to Lenzing EcoVero
A better alternative to EcoVero fabric is lyocell. Tencel, a very popular brand of lyocell, is an environmentally friendly cellulosic fiber produced sustainably.
The lyocell manufacturing process developed by Lenzing involves high recovery rates of chemicals. It also reduces wastewater and air emissions significantly.
Tencel lyocell is made of cellulose from wood pulp like Lenzing EcoVero fabrics. It's a semi-synthetic fiber made from renewable materials.
Lyocell isn't natural but its impact on the environment is very low compared to other synthetic fibers. It's the third generation of cellulosic fibers after modal and viscose rayon.
Lenzing has developed an environmentally responsible closed-loop production process that transforms wood pulp into Tencel Lyocell with high resource efficiency and low environmental impact.
This solvent-spinning process recycles process water and reuses the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%.
Lyocell is much more environmentally friendly than EcoVero because its production doesn't require highly toxic chemicals, such as carbon disulfide used during the production of viscose, which has led to many worker poisonings.
The main ingredients used in lyocell fabrication are N-Methylmorpholine N-oxide (NMMO) and water. NMMO, also commonly called amine oxide, is considered non-toxic and is easily regenerated.
Lyocell is extremely soft, breathable, lightweight, durable, anti-bacterial, and remains odor-free much longer than cotton.
Lyocell is arguably the most environmentally friendly cellulosic fiber. It's usually made from beech trees, pine trees, or eucalyptus. But it can also be produced out of bamboo, soy, seaweed, or coconut.
Seacell by Smartfiber is another Lyocell brand worth mentioning. It reduces the environmental impact of textiles by using sustainable dried seaweed.
Sustainable clothing brands using lyocell
For their new collections, many ethical fashion labels now use lyocell, one of the best environmentally friendly alternatives to viscose rayon.
They design, manufacture, and market high-quality clothing made of green materials such as Tencel lyocell, a certified wood-pulp fiber made into fabrics via sustainable methods.
But sustainable fashion isn't only about material sourcing. It's also important that brands and retailers guarantee substantially fair, ecological, and resource-efficient manufacturing conditions.
Here are some sustainable fashion brands that produce eco-friendly clothing from Tencel lyocell:
- Thought, a clothing brand making classic shirts and dresses from natural and sustainable fabrics.
- prAna, an outdoor brand that creates clothing for positive change, to inspire new generations to thrive and stay active.
- Patagonia, an industry leader in ethical and sustainable active and outerwear.
- Everlane, a transparent brand offering modern and beautiful essentials, at the best factories, without traditional markups.
- Reformation, a fashion label making sustainable women's clothing and accessories.
- People Tree (UK), a fair trade fashion pioneer, and online garment retailer making clothes from environmentally-friendly materials.
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About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.