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Levi’s denim joins the sustainability club

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2020-07-22 13:00:27 – USA

A product that has entailed over 5 years of research in circular denim design and a partnership with a Swedish recycling textile technology startup, Re:newcell was launched by Levi’s as it’s most sustainable jean.

The material is made of 60% organic cotton sourced from Turkey and 40% Circulose which is Re:newcell’s breakthrough material. Re:newcell’s innovative material comprises 20% recycled denim and 20% sustainable viscose. The jean is a part of Levi's Wellthread line, which introduces new fiber and fabric strategies such as cottonseed hemp denim and Water<Less to the market. This shift is what Levis believes will reduce its dependence on virgin materials and felicitate a reduction in the consumption of water and energy.

Circulose was launched by Re:newcell in 2019 as an alternative to mechanical recycling, which is said to weaken natural fibers and requires syntactic fiber blends to establish strength and deem to be non-recyclable. Re:newcel’s polymer recycling process, powered by renewable energy, requires no water and facilitates a sustainable manufacturing process, gives it the edge over non-recycled materials in the market.

By repurposing discarded cotton textiles like worn-out denim through a process similar to that of recycling paper the company innovated Circulose. The waste fabric is broken down using water. With the help of an environmentally friendly bleach, the color is then extracted from the material. After removing all the synthetic fibers from the mix, the slurry mixture is then dried and the excess water is drained leaving behind a sheet of Circulose. The sheet is then further processed into viscose fiber, which gets combined with cotton and woven into a new fabric.

Re:newcell CEO Patrik Lundström, stated that in order to make fashion sustainable, it was important to show people the real alternative to virgin cotton both in style and performance like Circulose. 

As Levi’s takes on garment-to-garment recycling, this collaboration gains importance. In the light of similarity durability and circularity are alike however sustainable denim and technology have put the two qualities on opposite ends. This collaboration is proof of how to recycle jeans in a manner that doesn’t diminish the quality or impede its recyclability in the future.

Una Murphy, Levi’s senior designer for innovation claims to be transforming old jeans into his-quality materials which helps them move beyond traditional cotton recycling, which shortens and breaks fibers.

He also proudly states the highest-quality fiber, allows Levi’s jeans to last longer, and designing for circularity ensures old jeans to become new jeans over and over again.

The jeans are designed in a way that allows maxim recyclability to regenerate into new jeans. Each component of the jean, from jean to trim has been carefully handpicked to ensure it meets recycling standards, enabling the garment to have a second life.

The new Levi’s recycled denim collection includes a men’s 502 and a women’s high loose jeans.

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