Levi Strauss & Co. is extending its longstanding commitment to sustainability and reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
The company announced a new climate action strategy Tuesday, which sets aggressive targets for reducing carbon emissions across its owned-and-operated facilities and global supply chain by 2025.
The targets include a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all owned-and-operated facilities, which Levi Strauss said will be achieved by investing in onsite renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades. By 2025, the company will also employ 100 percent renewable electricity in all of its owned-and-operated facilities.
Levi Strauss has a track record of reducing the climate impact of its owned-and-operated facilities. It has met or exceeded the goals it set in 2012 to reduce GHG emissions across Levi Strauss offices, retail and distribution by 25 percent, and to use 20 percent renewable energy at its owned-and-operated facilities.
Despite its progress, reducing the company’s carbon footprint across its global supply chain remains a challenge. The vast majority of Levi Strauss’ GHG emissions occur outside of its own facilities, which makes up just 1 percent of its total value chain emissions.
Sixty-three percent of emissions occur in the supply chain, according to Levi Strauss. Fabric production is the most significant source, accounting for 31 percent, followed by cotton cultivation (10 percent), garment assembly (9 percent) and the manufacturing of sundries, like rivets, snaps and zippers (6 percent). Meanwhile, 36 percent of overall emissions occur in the consumer use (washing and drying) and disposal phases.
In April, activist group Stand.earth called on Levi Strauss to take action and help set new industry-wide standards to control air pollution. From fiber and cloth production and manufacturing, to transport, packaging and retail, Stand.earth said the company’s global supply chain produces the climate pollution footprint equivalent to 1.1. million cars a year. The group lamented the company for not taking “meaningful action” to address impacts outside of its own operations.
The 2025 targets takes aim at making the global apparel industry more sustainable. Through working with key suppliers to expand the International Finance Corporation’s Partnership for Cleaner Textiles (IFC PaCT), Levi Strauss said it’s working toward a 40 percent reduction in GHG emissions in the supply chain.
The IFC PaCT is a public-private partnership that provides suppliers with technical expertise and access to low-cost financing to support sustainable energy and water investments. For suppliers for whom onsite renewable investment is feasible, Levi Strauss will collaborate with the IFC on a financing model. The company said it will also leverage the IFC Global Trade Supplier Finance program, provides access to capital for sustainability investments, which the supplier may otherwise not have been able to finance.
“We believe that business has the opportunity and the responsibility to be a force for positive change in the world,” said Chip Bergh, president and chief executive officer of Levi Strauss. “We are proud to be one of the first companies to set science-based targets for our global supply chain, and we hope to be an inspiration for others to follow.”
Levi Strauss’ new targets for 2025 are approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The initiative defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting, offers resources and expert guidance and independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.
“Levi Strauss & Co. has set an ambitious science-based target aligned with the Paris Agreement for its operations and value chain, which will help bring energy efficiency and renewable energy to its suppliers in developing markets,” said Cynthia Cummis, director of private sector climate mitigation at the World Resources Institute. “The company’s targets represent the kind of forward-thinking innovation that the fashion industry needs, and are a model for business success in a low-carbon world.”