Levi Strauss claims an industry first for setting new standards for water recycling and reuse

Levi Strauss claims an industry first for setting new standards for water recycling and reuse

Denim giant Levi Strauss has developed a technology that uses 100% recycled water in the finishing process - and has so far produced 100,000 pairs of women's jeans using the new system, which it also plans to roll out at its supplier factories worldwide.

The water-recycling process is part of the San Francisco based company's efforts to reduce its impact on the world's resources, and has been developed with one of its supplier factories in China.

The jeans maker claims it has achieved an industry first by setting new standards for water recycling and reuse in the apparel industry - and says it has so far saved some 12m litres of water, enough to fill almost five Olympic-size swimming pools.

"We believe this innovation can help change the way our supplier factories use water," the company says.

After water is used during the finishing process on all Levi's jeans, it is treated to ensure it meets the company's global effluent requirements as well as local water standards before it leaves the factories.

Building on this, its Chinese partner built another micro-filtration system that can recycle all the water used in the finishing process - effectively using it over and over again to finish products instead of bringing in new water from outside sources.

"We don't want to stop at one supplier making 100,000 units," the company says. "As we did with our Water<Less programme, which uses significantly less water in the manufacturing of our products, we want to scale the recycled water programme."

The next step will see one of its Nicaraguan suppliers implement the recycled water process later this year, and discussions are underway with other factories around the world.

"The goal is to expand it across all of our collections - and beyond: we'll share the recycled water standard with key industry stakeholders for other suppliers to use." Indeed, the Chinese factory the company worked with is already using the recycled water system with other denim brands.

For suppliers, Levi Strauss & Co says its expertise can save factory owners thousands of dollars in consulting fees, making it more affordable for them to install the necessary recycling systems.

Water recycling also reduces water costs for the manufacturer, it says, as well as minimising the depletion of this natural resource.

Click here to view the new industry standard for water recycling and reuse in apparel manufacturing that Levi Strauss has established for its supplier factories worldwide.