Levi’s Wants to Be a Net-zero Company by 2050

Though only on its second annual global sustainability report, Levi’s is bent on operational change with ESG in mind.

Levi’s chief executive officer Chip Bergh noted, in an opening statement, that the business is set on longevity despite a sluggish pace of industry progress. “It is abundantly clear that businesses with long-term growth aspirations must be looking for ways to use resources more efficiently and judiciously, better support their people and communities, and play an active role in solving the most critical issues of our day. There remain questions, however, about how companies do these things, how businesses should measure and substantiate progress, and whether the progress is happening fast enough, which in most cases, it is not.”

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Revolving around three pillars instituted last year — climate, consumption and community — the report highlights new and existing goals on greenhouse gas emissions reduction, circularity, philanthropy, chemical and water management and more.

Notably, the company announced one quantifiable new goal: to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Since 2018, Levi’s has been part of the Science-Based Targets Initiative, or SBTi, as part of the Business Ambition for 1.5-degrees Celsius campaign to reduce direct supply chain emission by 90 percent by 2025 from a 2016 baseline and a 40 percent reduction in Scope 3 (or indirect) emission by 2025. Levi’s baseline for Scope 3 emissions was 2.7 million mtCO2 in 2016. Its net-zero goal will be submitted for approval with SBTi next year. So far, the company reported a 66 percent absolute reduction off of its SBTi target (which is direct supply chain only) and a 22 percent reduction in GHG emissions across its entire supply chain.

Levi’s reported water savings and addressed materials as well. Since 2011, Levi’s has recycled 11.5 billion liters of water in its facilities using its Water<Less program. Though 95 percent of all cotton in its products is considered organic, recycled or Better Cotton, investors should bear in mind sourcing disruptions related to Pakistani cotton that is the second-highest sourcing partner to Better Cotton.

The company also touts being “circular-ready by 2026,” not to mean its products will be designed for circularity but rather the company is ready to set a measurable target as aligned with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

In a nod to durability, the report coincides with Levi’s “Buy Better, Wear Longer” marketing campaign that saw its second iteration last week and encourages consumers to stretch the wear of their denim.

“It’s a celebration of the company’s heritage in many ways,” wrote Levi’s chief sustainability officer, Jeffrey Hogue, in a LinkedIn post. “But it comes with a clear understanding that just because something has lasted in largely the same form for a century and a half doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. Our products, and the fashion industry as a whole, not only can be more sustainable — they must be more sustainable. To that end, we’re doubling down on our innovation, design and production goals to make our products and operations less resource-intensive and more efficient.”

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