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Levi’s Expands Clothing Recycling Program into Europe

Levi Strauss & Co. is taking another step toward sustainability, expanding its clothing recycling initiative, previously centered in the U.S., into locations across Europe. The program, begun in early 2015 in the U.S., premiered in the U.K. at the beginning of 2016.

Consumers can now drop off any brand of clean and dry clothing or shoes at collection boxes at their local Levi’s store, and people who donate will receive a discount voucher for a Levi’s item.

Levi’s said that people are generally unfamiliar with the idea of recycling clothing and, in the U.K., discard 350,000 tons of unwanted clothing every year. This recycling program is part of Levi’s larger goal of supporting a circular economy. In the context of apparel, this means designing a product with recycling in mind, so that the garment can eventually be downcycled into products like insulation or upcycled into new garments.

Levi’s partnered on this project with I:Collect, a solutions service provider for reuse and recycling of apparel, footwear and other textiles. I:CO has a procedure for sorting clothing and shoes that includes reselling wearable items and recycling other pieces into products such as cleaning cloths and insulation and padding.

Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co., said, “We’re thinking about sustainability across all facets of our business and how to shift consumer behavior to make recycling clothing the norm.” He continued, “As an industry leader, we consider all phases of our product lifecycle, including stages beyond our direct control like the product’s end point.”

Levi’s looks to roll out the initiative across Europe by the end of 2017.