Levi Strauss & Co. announced Thursday it is granting more than $380,000 to the second class of LS&Co. Collaboratory fellows who are working on innovations in the apparel supply chain that address issues related to climate change.
The Collaboratory is a fellowship program for entrepreneurs working to create a more sustainable apparel industry. The program tackles different social and environmental sustainability challenges that are critically important to the future of the apparel industry and the environment. The first Collaboratory class in 2018 focused on water. The 2019 class focused on climate change.
Earlier this year, potential fellows submitted project proposals to combat climate change, which LS&Co. scored on feasibility, impact and alignment with its own principles. A Funding Decision Committee then reviewed the concepts and selected 12 for funding.
Projects include rescuing excess fabrics to create clothes designed by award-winning sustainable designers, a data platform for garment factories and textile waste recyclers that enables end-to-end trading and tracing, and reinventing the way goods are sent and received.
Fellows attended a weekend workshop at LS&Co.’s Eureka Innovation Lab, where they had the opportunity to work through developing tangible plans for reducing the industry’s climate impact. The fellows were guided by Levi’s leaders and employee mentors, along with sustainability and apparel industry experts.
“The energy and creativity on display from this class of fellows was wonderful to see,” Paul Dillinger, LS&Co. vice president of global product innovation, said. “We all know how urgently our industry, and our planet, need real solutions to the challenges presented by climate change, so we are proud to support ideas and projects that can help get us closer to where we need to be.”
News of the grants falls during a week that saw masses of students worldwide protest against climate-change inaction, and an impassioned speech by 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg at the United Nations Climate Summit.
The apparel industry’s impact on climate change has been an important issue for the denim giant.
In 2018, LS&Co. released its Climate Action Strategy, which focuses on emissions reduction targets based on a 1.5-degree temperature rise scenario. In the plan, the company committed to sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity across its owned-and-operated facilities, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent at the facilities.
And in an effort to achieve a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain, LS&Co. is working with the International Finance Corporation’s Partnership (IFC) for Cleaner Textile (PaCT), a public-private partnership that connects suppliers with experts and access to low-cost financing to support sustainable energy and water investments.