Levi Strauss Takes Clothing Recycling Initiative National

7/21/2015
Levi Strauss & Co. is expanding its clothing recycling initiative to all Levi's® mainline and outlet stores in the United States. The company is making it easier for consumers to recycle clothing and shoes, underscoring its commitment to sustainability by reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills and creating an infrastructure that supports a circular economy by 2020.

Consumers may drop off any brand of clean, dry clothing or shoes in the collection boxes at their local Levi's® store. Any consumer who brings an item of clothing or shoes to recycle will receive a voucher for 20 percent off a single, regular-priced Levi's® item in-store.

Following the recent launch of the new Levi's® denim collection for women, this expanded recycling effort supports the introduction of Friday Fashion Exchange events that invite women to try on the new collection and bring their gently worn jeans for recycling. These events will take place every Friday in all U.S. Levi's® mainline stores until Aug. 28. Women who recycle their clothing at a Friday Fashion Exchange event will receive an additional voucher for $10 off their purchase of any item from the new women's denim collection.

While many consumers are familiar with recycling bottles, cans and paper, most still throw away clothing. Annually, Americans discard more than 28 billion pounds of unwanted clothing, shoes and other textiles. Charitable organizations and others collect roughly 15 percent of these items, while the remaining 85 percent — 24 billion pounds — end up in landfills.

"We're thinking about sustainability across all facets of our business and how to shift consumer behavior to make recycling clothing the norm," said Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. "As an industry leader, we consider all phases of our product lifecycle, including stages beyond our direct control like the product's end point. Collecting used clothing at our stores makes it simple and easy for consumers to do their part and builds upon our commitment to do the right thing for the environment."

Expanding clothing and shoe recycling is the latest endeavor in LS&Co.'s broader sustainability goal of creating an infrastructure that supports a circular economy by 2020. In the apparel industry, this refers to designing a product from cradle-to-cradle rather than cradle-to-grave. For example, in 2014, with its pilot of Wellthread™, LS&Co. designers created 100% recyclable product from a single fiber – cotton – that not only met durability expectations of consumers, but could also be easily remade into new garments. Recycling clothing by separating fibers and creating new garments reduces the need for virgin cotton, generating significant water and other environmental resource savings.

The company has taken great efforts to understand the environmental impact of its products through two lifecycle assessments. Since then, LS&Co. has made strides in reducing its water usage, saving more than 1 billion liters of water through its Water™ finishing process, while also educating consumers about reducing water and energy consumption through the introduction of the Care Tag for Our Planet in 2009 and the "Are You Ready to Come Clean" quiz in 2015. Diverting old garments from landfills while making it easy for consumers to do their part is the company's next step to realizing a more sustainable future through closed loop products.

The expanded program builds upon an ongoing partnership with I:Collect (I:CO), an end-to-end solutions provider for reuse and recycling of apparel, footwear and other textiles. "We admire Levi Strauss & Co.'s vision and impressive sustainability efforts. We are proud to be expanding our partnership to increase consumer access to clothing and shoe recycling opportunities," said Jennifer Gilbert, I:CO USA's Chief Marketing Officer. "This in-store take back program not only makes it easy for consumers to recycle their unwanted items, but also helps create much-needed awareness about the challenge of textile waste and the aim to keep these items in an everlasting cycle."

I:CO provides a global solution for preventing collected items from becoming waste by diverting them from landfills. The company has best-in-class procedures for sorting clothing and shoes — wearable items are resold and re-worn, while other pieces are reused as products such as cleaning cloths, recycled into fibers for insulation and paddings or upcycled into new products.
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