Denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. has partnered with an Italian nylon manufacturer to use 100% regenerated nylon waste materials in men's jeans.
When it comes to ethics and environmental concerns, the iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. has a pretty good reputation. From introducing water-recycling processes in Chinese factories to encouraging people not to wash their jeans to treating employees well, the company is always on the lookout for new ways to improve.
Levi Strauss & Co.’s most recent foray into environmental sustainability involves a partnership with Italian nylon manufacturer Aquafil. One of the products that Aquafil makes is a synthetic material called Econyl, which is made from 100 percent regenerated nylon waste materials.
These pre- and post-consumer waste materials include discarded fishing nets and old carpets. Divers working with the Healthy Seas Initiative take the fishing nets from the ocean, reducing ever so slightly the estimated 640,000 tons of "ghost" nets currently adrift in the oceans that pose an ongoing threat to marine life.
Another reason for Levi’s switch to a recycled material is the concern that cotton production – the main ingredient for denim – cannot keep up with growing demand, mostly due to lack of available land for growing. It is necessary to look for alternative and preferably closed-loop options.
“We envision a world where everyday items don’t have to come at the expense of the environment,” said Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO of Aquafil, in a press release. “This new partnership is further proof that sustainable materials can be used to reinvigorate products that have been traditionally made. Levi’s is redefining the denim industry.”
Econyl, also known as polyamide, is made in 15 plants located in Scotland, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, USA, Thailand and China. Says the Aquafil website, “The ECONYL® Regeneration System is the world’s most efficient industrial system for the production of Nylon 6 and is unique in that it boasts no loss of quality after reclamation and transformation of nylon waste.”
Econyl is now being incorporated into Levi’s 522 men’s jeans, available online, at a ration of 61% cotton, 38% polyamide (Econyl), and 1% Elastane. Levi’s has not said if it intends to expand the use of Econyl into other jeans.