SAN FRANCISCO—If you thought drinking bottled water wouldn’t eventually show its evidence on your waistline, you’re wrong.
Levi Strauss & Co. has launched WasteLess—a new line of jeans made from a fabric that incorporates recycled polyethylene terephthalate bottles (PET) and trays gathered from municipal recycling programs in the U.S.
Each pair of jeans is about 20 per cent recycled PET, the equivalent of about eight 12-ounce to 20-ounce PET post-consumer bottles, the company says. The plastic is sorted by colour, crushed into flakes and turned into polyester fibre before being blended with cotton to create the WasteLess fabric. The colours of the bottles used “adds a unique finish to the final product,” the company says.
“With this collection, we’re doing our own small part by taking wasted and making some new from it,” said James Curleigh, global president of the Levi’s brand.
The company estimates 3.5 million PET bottles will be used to create the the 2013 Spring WasteLess line, which, for men includes the 511 Skinny jeans, the 504 Straight Fit jeans and the Trucker jacket. The men’s line will be available globally but the women’s Boyfriend Skinny jeans in a progressive fit will only be available in the U.S. and Europe.
Levi’s previous sustainability initiatives include the 2010 launch of a program called A Care Tag for our Planet in partnership with Goodwill Industries International Inc., to encourage consumers to donate their used jeans to charity. It also teaches consumers environmentally friendly ways of laundering clothes.
The firm developed Water Less, a technique that uses up to 96 per cent less water in the finishing process, depending on the style of jeans in question. The company also participates in the Better Cotton Initiative that encourages farmers to use less water and fewer pesticides.
Levi’s isn’t the first company in 2012 to launch jeans made from post-consumer plastic. Back in April, Bonobos, a U.S. men’s clothing retailer launched its Bottle Rocket line of men’s jeans that are made from recycled beer bottles. Even though the use of fabric made from recycled plastic is on the rise, some companies have been incorporating sustainable fabrics into their products for years. For example, Patagonia started using a fleece-lining for its PCR line made from recycled pop bottles in 1993.
No news yet on whether the Ford Motor Company plans to use discarded WasteLess and Bottle Rocket jeans as part of its sustainable fabrics program. The 2012 Focus incorporated material made from recycled denim and the company has increased use of sustainable fabrics in its 2013 models. Some will use covers made from Repreve, made from recycled plastic.