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Levi Strauss & Co. Makes Water Saving Techniques Public

In honor of World Water Day in March, Levi Strauss & Co. announced that it would open source all of its Waterless techniques. These 21 techniques, introduced in 2011 to reduce the water used in garment finishing by up to 96 percent, have a range of applications for denim finishing, including ozone and wash cycle combinations.

The brand previewed these techniques with about 20 of Levi’s peers last year to try to drive collaboration toward greater impact as an industry. The brand’s latest move is an attempt to activate brands large and small toward innovation and engagement around water use. Since implementation, Levi’s has saved more than one billion liters of water.

Andrew Olah, founder of Kingpins Show, said, “I think what Levi’s is doing is quite remarkable, and I am hoping they can implement these techniques to save water because jeans are being made in countries (Bangladesh and Pakistan) where there are very low amounts of fresh water, and there is a very real risk these nations will actually run out of water one day.”

Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi’s, said, “We believe that water is too important to our industry to not share these techniques. We hope that our peers will take what we have learned and build upon it so that, as an industry, we can work together to save 50 billion liters of water by 2020.”

Along with the brand’s announcement about sharing techniques, Levi’s also announced participation in the White House Water Summit, where the company communicated plans to train 100 percent of corporate employees on water conservation through its partnership with Project Wet.

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Levi’s also shared its 2020 water savings targets. The company plans to use 100 percent sustainable cotton through sources like Better Cotton and recycled cotton; create 80 percent of Levi’s products with Waterless techniques; and achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals through partnership with the Join Roadmap Towards Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals.

Kobori said, “Water is a critical resource for our business, the planet and people around the globe, but usable supply is becoming increasingly scarce.” He added, “We’ve long been committed to being water stewards, but realize more needs to be done. We’re setting competition aside and encouraging others to utilize these open source tools.”

Karla Magruder, president of Fabrikology International, commented, “Levi’s should be commended for sharing their water saving techniques. For companies who really believe that saving water is imperative for our future, sharing the techniques serves to support that belief. This is the opposite of green washing. Additionally, if others in the industry use the same techniques, it will help to scale and make it more cost effective overall.”