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Chemical Safety Central to Levi’s New Supply Chain Collab

Levi’s is taking steps to keep harmful chemicals out of its supply chain.

On Tuesday, Levi Strauss & Co. and Hohenstein announced their collaboration to utilize the Eco Passport by Oeko-Tex certification system in the denim brand’s supply chain to manage chemical safety.

The companies feel the collaboration will amplify the capabilities of the Screened Chemistry program developed by Levi Strauss and help establish a clearer pathway toward safer chemistry in the apparel industry by providing enhanced levels of testing, verification and transparency for chemical safety.

Hohenstein’s research centers on the interaction between textiles, humans and the environment. It is a founding member and leading provider of the Oeko-Tex portfolio of services, such as the Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex certification, the international standard for safe textiles.

Levi Strauss and Hohenstein said they both approach chemicals management from a perspective that safer inputs lead to safer outputs. Screened Chemistry, originated by Levi Strauss as an open-source program others can adopt, analyzes chemical formulations to prevent potentially hazardous compounds from entering the apparel supply chain and identify safer alternatives.

By screening emerging chemistries that are not yet covered by Manufacturing Restricted Substances Lists, Levi Strauss has created a more holistic approach to ensuring safe and responsible chemicals management.

Eco Passport by Oeko-Tex is an independent certification system for chemicals in the apparel, textile and leather industries. It analyzes whether each ingredient in a chemical product meets international statutory requirements and is not harmful to human health. On-site inspections can validate claims that suppliers are using safer and better chemistry, manufactured according to industry best practices.

“Levi Strauss & Co. is committed to responsible chemicals management across our supply chain and our industry,” Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi Strauss, said. “This collaboration helps take our existing programs to the next level by establishing a new standard for responsible chemical stewardship that melds the hazard-based approach of Screened Chemistry with the robust testing and validation capabilities of Hohenstein.”

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John Frazier, senior technical director at Hohenstein, said the collaboration is an important move in identifying and putting better chemistry into apparel, footwear and textile supply chains.

“The coupling of Screened Chemistry, Eco Passport by Oeko-Tex, brand leadership and progressive chemical suppliers is a powerful signal of good things to come for chemicals management,” Frazier said.

The combined use of Screened Chemistry and Eco Passport also complements the recognized standards under the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (SDHC) Roadmap to Zero initiative, an industry collaboration designed to drive the adoption of safer chemistry across the apparel supply chain. Through its testing and on-site verification, Eco Passport will enable chemical suppliers to achieve higher levels of conformance with ZDHC.

Eco Passport’s certification results are published in the Oeko-Tex Buying Guide, providing a credible third-party assessment of chemical supplier performance. The companies said this partnership will enable Levi Strauss to advance and better implement its existing chemicals management program and create a template that others in and beyond apparel can follow. The result is a program that goes beyond a risk-management approach and provides a roadmap for companies to eliminate and prevent the introduction of chemical hazards in the supply chain.