Levi Strauss commits to a new water action plan


Global clothing brand Levi Strauss has announced its new water action strategy and aims to lead global sustainability efforts to address climate change.

Levi Strauss will use the new plan to highlight its position as a leader in water stewardship in manufacturing.

The strategy leverages the latest water science and data, consultations with leading water experts and the firm’s own water management experience, to reduce overall water use and satisfy watersheds.

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The plan will focus heavily on the most water-stressed areas in the company’s supply chain with the aim of reducing water use by 50% by 2025.

The plan is the first of its kind by Levi Strauss since the firm launched its Water<Less programme, which significantly reduces the amount of water used in the finishing process.

Since 2011, Levi Strauss has saved 3 billion litres of water in the finishing phase through to 2018, while recycling and reuse capabilities helped save another 2 billion litres.

“We all know that water is perhaps the most critical resource on the planet and that many places, including countries the apparel industry sources from, are struggling with water crises,” said Liz O’Neill, president of Levi Strauss’s global product, innovation and supply chain. “This announcement is an illustration of what sustainability means to us now: innovative, responsive, scalable programmes that drive impact and inspire collective action to address the most pressing social and environmental issues facing our business, industry, and planet.”

The core elements of the new strategy are as follows:

  1. Levi Strauss will work with key suppliers that represent 80% of total production volume to set and achieve specific water use targets for factories where Levi’s, Dockers, Signature by Levi Strauss, and Denizen products are made or finished.
  2. Levi Strauss will help all its key suppliers achieve the Water<Less designation by 2025 utilising tools and programmes such as existing Water<Less techniques, LS&Co.’s collaboration with the Apparel Impact Institute’s Clean by Design programme and its partnership with the International Finance Corporation’s Partnership for Cleaner Textiles.
  3. The firm will collaborate with suppliers, other brands, NGOs and others at the local level to develop programmes that improve the long-term health of watersheds in key sourcing locations. 
  4. To address needs in places where safe, clean drinking water is hard to find, the brand will partner with suppliers to promote greater access to water for surrounding communities; several supplier facilities, for example, have already installed freshwater faucets that make potable water available to the community.
  5. The clothing firm will continue to reduce the amount of water required for cotton cultivation by collaborating with organisations like the Better Cotton Initiative to implement better farming methods, while simultaneously continuing to explore the use of alternative raw materials such as hemp and regenerated fibres that can reduce the amount of water used in the cultivation phase.

“For years WWF and Levi Strauss & Co. have worked together to improve decision making in priority basins, targeting the right actions to the right places for maximum impact. Levi’s’ new water strategy continues that ambition, moving the company beyond efficiency targets toward holistic watershed conservation,” said Sheila Bonini, WWF’s senior vice president of private sector engagement. “Levi Strauss & Co. is answering an urgent call for companies to embrace water stewardship – not just for business interests, but to protect water resources for everyone.”