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Water Recycling in Denim Production Solution by: Levi Strauss & Co.

In collaboration with suppliers, Levi’s water recycling system has saved millions of liters by reducing the amount of fresh water used in the finishing process.

The Triple Bottom Line

Environmental This method of water recycling has already led to some 12 million liters of water savings, according to Levi’s.

Social Water scarcity is a global concern with significant social and political implications, particularly in regions producing clothing for the fashion industry.

Economic According to Levi’s, water recycling significantly reduces costs for the manufacturer.

As part of the company’s water conservation efforts, including its “Water<Less” collection which has saved some 770 million liters, Levi’s has started collaborating with its suppliers to implement wastewater recycling strategies. The new system, which has already achieved 12 million liters of savings, allows water to be recycled repeatedly. In order to facilitate participation, it has also produced new industry standards for its partner factories operating globally, geared towards the reuse of effluent water during finishing. Following the success of this program at a key partnering Chinese factory, others in Nicaragua and South Asia are due to follow suit by retrofitting existing facilities. Why a Sustainia100 solution? The denim finishing process is a water-intensive one, with an average pair of jeans consuming 42 liters. 1 This solution aims to lessen the impact of this process, having already produced 100,000 pairs of jeans using recycled water, and is making efforts to scale adoption industry-wide.

Developed: USA

Deployed:  China 

1 UNFCCC. ‘Private Sector Initiative actions on adaptation: Levi’s Water<Less’. Online:


Sustainia100 2014