Always a pioneer when it comes to green retailing, Levi Strauss & Co. just introduced a new collection of denim made with 20-percent recycled plastic bottles and food trays. The company’s Waste<Less™ line of jeans and denim jackets for men and women will be part of Levi’s Spring 2013 collection, available in stores early next year. Each of the Waste<Less products will include 20-percent post-consumer waste, or about 12-20 plastic bottles per pair of jeans. The entire collection will utilize more than 3.5 million recycled bottles.
In a news release from Levi’s, James Curleigh, global president of the Levi’s brand, said, “From the beginning, we have designed our products with purpose and intent. By adding value to waste, we hope to change the way people think about recycling, ultimately incentivizing them to do more of it. This collection proves that you don’t have to sacrifice quality, comfort or style to give an end a new beginning.”
The company worked with Cone Denim, a leading supplier of fabric to top denim brands with a commitment to sustainability, to use fibers from recycled plastic bottles including brown beer bottles, green, soda bottles and clear water bottles as well as lack food trays in its jeans. The plastic is collected through municipal recycling programs across the U.S., crushed into flakes and made into a polyester fiber. This is woven with cotton fiber and then woven with traditional cotton yarn by Cone Denim to create the fabric used in Levi’s Waste<Less jeans.
Levi’s was among the first in the apparel industry to measure the environmental impact of its jeans and other pants from cotton fields to consumers, as well as to conduct a life-cycle assessment of some of its other products. The company is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, which reduces pesticide and water use during the cotton growing process and helps support cotton farmers on a global basis. To date, Levi’s has blended low-water Better Cotton into more than 5 million pairs of jeans.
In 2010, Levi’s embarked on a campaign to encourage its customers to wash their jeans less often, in cold water, and to line-dry them. Last year, the company introduced its Water<Less™ jeans collection, a finishing technique that reduced the use of water by close to 96 percent for some styles. The collection saved more than 360 million liters of water this year. Levi’s is one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel companies in the world and a leader in jeanswear, with sales of $4.8 billion in 2011.