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How We’re Addressing Wastewater Woes


Here at Levi Strauss & Co, we recognize that we not only have a responsibility to remain judicious when it comes to wastewater throughout our production, but it’s also good for business.

As Triple Pundit put it this week, companies that invest in wastewater treatment and recycling will find they can enhance their bottom line as well as gain the trust of local communities, particularly at risk of drought and water scarcity. LS&Co. and General Mills were heralded as great industry examples for their efforts to do right when it comes to water use.

“One of the biggest challenges is the fact that we don’t own most of the factories making our products, which means we share factories with other brands, including smaller, local brands, who may not have the same high standards when it comes to wastewater,” Michael Kobori, LS&Co.’s vice president of sustainability, told Triple Pundit. “This also means our leverage with the factory owners can be diluted, especially if we don’t make up the majority of their business.”

Our solutions have included developing a new industry-wide wastewater standard with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals group (ZDHC) and working with apparel vendors and suppliers to improve their approaches to wastewater.

One example includes the work our sourcing team has done with Asia vendor Crystal on a water recycling program. Crystal recently agreed to upgrade its equipment and piping systems so the company’s machines could use various ratios of recycled and freshwater. With as much as 75 percent recycled water being used in this process, we dramatically increased the amount of recycled water used in the manufacture of our garments by increasing the range of products that could be made with some portion of recycled water.

“It’s also a great example because this work was initiated by our sourcing team, not our sustainability team, which shows how Levi Strauss & Co. is embedding sustainability throughout the business,” Kobori said.

Learn more about the other steps we’ve taken to protect one of earth’s greatest resources via Triple Pundit.