Global Effluent Requirements
We established our first global water quality guidelines in 1992. In fact, we were first company in our industry to establish global guidelines for water quality standards for our suppliers.
- Our Global Effluent Requirements (GER) mandate the maximum wastewater contaminant levels for our manufacturing locations worldwide. We updated this document in 2007 to apply to all factories that finish or launder garments for Levi Strauss & Co. In 2009, we extended the guidelines to include second-tier suppliers of bulk fabric and sundry items.
- Extending the GER grew out of our work with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and seven other companies. Through BSR’s Sustainable Water Group, we are focused on future efforts that go beyond keeping water clean to comprehensive water management programs that include water reclamation, water efficiency and reuse.
CEO Water Mandate
Levi Strauss & Co is one of the founding member signatories of the CEO Water Mandate.
Established in July 2007, this unique public-private initiative, under the auspices of the United Nations Global Compact, assists companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices.
Our signature acknowledges that companies have a responsibility to make water-resources management a priority and to work with governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to address the global water challenge.
Our commitment to the CEO Water Mandate is ongoing. Read our progress report to learn about new steps we have taken to improve water management.
Our business relies on abundant sources of water, whether it is in cotton growing, manufacturing or providing potable water for workers wherever we operate.
- Direct operations. The water usage associated with our direct operations is a small piece of our overall water footprint (only about 1% of the water is linked to manufacturing the product). But addressing water usage, quality and availability within our direct operations not only reduces our overall environmental footprint, it also makes good business sense to operate as efficiency and cost effectively as possible. We are committed to measuring and reporting our water footprint on an ongoing basis.
- Measurement. Since 2008, we have been tracking water usage throughout our owned and operated facilities. With that data, we are able to compare within and across regions and facility types and develop targets for water reduction at each facility.
- Tracking supplier usage. In 2009, we began to collect water use data directly from our suppliers, as well as our own operations. Facilitating this data collection effort is our new Social and Environmental Sustainability Information Management System (SESIMS), which allows us to monitor detailed environmental performance at the supplier level.
- Water use in the supply chain. More than 50% of the water associated with our products stems from activities in our supply chain – from cotton production to retail sales. Currently, the supply chain is the primary focus of our water stewardship activities. For example, through the Better Cotton Initiative, we are aiming to help reduce water and pesticide consumption in the cotton industry.
In 2007, we performed a lifecycle assessment of our Levi’s® 501 jeans and Dockers® Original Khakis. From growing the cotton that eventually becomes a pair of jeans to recycling those jeans, the impact on water consumption is clear:
- Over 3,000 liters of water are used during the full product lifecycle of a single pair of 501 jeans, from the cotton production and manufacturing process to keeping the jeans clean.
- 45% of the water used in the lifecycle of a pair of 501 jeans occurs during the wash-and-dry home care by the customer.
As a result, we have launched a concerted effort to encourage customers to reduce the environmental impact of caring for their clothes by washing their jeans in cold water.
Our partnership with Procter & Gamble’s Tide Coldwater raises awareness about the environmental and economic advantages of washing in cold water.