Levi Strauss & Co. gives in to Greenpeace effort, vows to clean up hazardous chemicals

AP File PhotoPoint made: Models wading in a foam river were part of a Greenpeace protest on Levi’s use of chemicals Wednesday.

AP File PhotoPoint made: Models wading in a foam river were part of a Greenpeace protest on Levi’s use of chemicals Wednesday.

San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. has committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing of its products by 2020 following a Greenpeace-organized protest at its headquarters Wednesday morning, according to Greenpeace activists and company officials.

Protesters gathered at the clothier’s headquarters at 1155 Battery St. to protest the company’s use of certain chemicals in Mexican factories where some of its apparel is manufactured. The protest included a “foam river” in the plaza and models in Levi’s jeans wading in the “river.”

Demonstrators said the foam river represented the rivers in Mexico that are being polluted by factories used by Levi’s.

Levi’s responded to the protest by strengthening its action plan after “further engagement with Greenpeace,” the company posted on its blog.

“We are now focused on the work to execute these commitments,” which include an effort to have no hazardous chemicals discharged into wastewater from global supply factories by 2020, a company statement said.

Levi’s officials previously issued a statement last week that said, “We agree with Greenpeace that the industry needs to take this seriously and think differently about how we use chemicals.”

According to the company, it has committed to stop producing products with perflourinated compounds by July 2016, and has already stopped using alkyl phenol ethoxylates.

The renewed commitment from the company was a coup for the environmental activists, Greenpeace spokeswoman Myriam Fallon said. Levi’s is setting a standard for other big-name brands to follow suit, she said.

Fallon praised the company’s goal to be more transparent about chemicals used and what is in factory wastewater.

The protest began about 9 a.m. Wednesday and ended around noon, which was when Fallon said “we felt we had gotten the message to Levi’s” and the demonstrators were able to have a conversation with the company.

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