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Sustainable-Fit Jeans: Levi’s WasteLess Denim Made With 3.5 Million Recycled Bottles

Levi’s has introduced a new denim collection made from recycled plastic bottles and food trays.

In what the jeans brand calls the next chapter in its sustainable design initiative, each WasteLess product will include a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer recycled content, or, on average, eight 12- to 20-ounce bottles per jean.

The WasteLess products will be available for both men and women as part of the Levi’s Spring 2013 collection, and will utilize more than 3.5 million recycled bottles.

Through the company’s partners, PET plastic — including brown beer bottles, green soda bottles, clear water bottles and black food trays — is collected through municipal recycling programs across the US. The bottles and food trays are sorted by color, crushed into flakes, and made into a polyester fiber.

Next, the polyester fiber is blended with cotton fiber, which is finally woven with traditional cotton yarn to create the denim used in the WasteLess jeans and trucker jackets. The color of the bottles used adds an undertone to the denim fabric creating a unique finish in the final product.

In 2009, Levi Strauss & Co. introduced A Care Tag for our Planet, an initiative to educate consumers on how to clean their clothes with less environmental impact; it also encourages them to donate used jeans to Goodwill rather than throwing them out.

This initiative was followed up by WaterLess jeans in 2010, with a finishing technique that reduces water use in the finishing process by up to 96 percent for some styles. This year, the Water<Less collection saved more than 360 million liters of water, Levi’s says.

Additionally, the company is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, which reduces water and pesticide use during the cotton growing process. To date, the company says it has blended Better Cotton into more than 5 million pairs of jeans.

Earlier this month, Levi’s announced a target to reduce greenhouse gases by 25 percent by 2020, from 2007 levels, in its offices, stores, and distribution centers. The company met its original GHG target — a reduction in global corporate emissions of 11 percent from 2007 levels — last year.

The company also said it will reduce GHG emissions by five percent for each product made in its own manufacturing plants, and will use 20 percent renewable energy across the company by 2020.

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