Levi’s is recycling old jeans with wood pulp to make new jeans
The apparel brand, Levi’s is found a new way to support environmental sustainability.
Working with the Swedish start-up, Renewcell, Levi’s has adopted a technology that recycles old jeans fabric into new material to manufacture new jeans. What’s more, these new jeans are designed for full circularity to ensure that they are easily recyclable themselves too. The jeans design includes trims and tags made from cotton (rather than other materials used earlier) to ensure that when your jeans are worn out, they can be easily recycled into new jeans fabric.
So, you may very well be wearing some parts of another person’s jeans when you buy a new pair from Levi’s.
This technology heralds a new way to both business and environmental sustainability. It has shown an overwhelming impact on the overall manufacturing lifecycle of the brand’s products – bringing down the costs associated with cotton growing and processing. On the environmental side, it has significantly contributed to shrinking the water, carbon, and chemical footprint related to the growth, processing, and dyeing of cotton. Growing cotton to manufacture a pair of jeans would consume over 2500 litres of water, for example, but using fabric made from recycled cottonit has meaningfully reduced this consumption.
This new technology from Renewcell is also a significant improvement over the older fabric recycling technology that considerably degraded the quality of the fiber. Renewcell’s technology reconstructs the recycled cotton by completely dissolving the pulp-like cotton fabric and forcibly passing it through tiny nozzles to make high-quality fivers called Circulose (a variety of viscose). Levi’s is currently manufacturing jeans that have about 40% Circulose and rest is organic cotton.
Levi’s is now investing in R&D to investigate and devise ways to increase the Circulose content in the jeans with an end goal of eventually making the jeans out of 100% recyclable cotton, and also to make it feel more cotton-like.