Levi Strauss & Co. moving to raise the bar for supply chain sustainabi…


While the solid economy and its subsequent impact on logistics and supply chains often receives its fair amount of headlines of late, it is very fair to say there are not other things of interest occurring.

One of those things is supply chain sustainability, or being “green,” if you will. Over the years, there have been several examples of this at work, whether it is in the form of supply chain design, site selection, leveraging alternative fuels, and emissions reductions efforts, among others, of course.

So, while things like last-mile, blockchain, APIs and the Cloud, and, um, unique market conditions tend to garner the most attention, supply chain sustainability remains alive and well, and should not be overlooked.

That was made clear in a wide-ranging announcement made earlier this week by clothing retailer Levi Strauss & Co., regarding its new climate action strategy.

At the core of this strategy, Levi said, are “new aggressive targets for reducing carbon emissions across its owned-and-operated facilities and global supply chain by 2025,” which includes using 100% renewable electricity in company-owned facilities.  What’s more, the company noted that even though it has a proven history of reducing carbon emissions within its own operations, the most significant impact, as well as the most difficult, concerns its global supply chain.

With that as a backdrop, Levi’s stated 2025 deadline sustainability, emissions reduction goals include:

  • a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in all owned and operated facilities which Levi said will be achieved by investing in onsite renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades; and
  • a 40% reduction in GHG emissions in the supply chain through collaborating with key suppliers to expand the International Finance Corporation’s Partnership for Cleaner Textiles (IFC PaCT) globally. The IFC PaCT is an innovative public-private partnership that provides suppliers with technical expertise and access to low-cost financing to support sustainable energy and water investments

Levi Strauss & Co. president and CEO Chip Bergh said in a statement that the company is proud to be one of the first companies to set science-based targets for its global supply chain, adding the company hopes other organizations make similar commitments.

Bergh is 100% right in saying that, as it is important for companies, especially large global ones like Levi, to take these steps. With finite resources, in terms of energy consumption and related emissions factors, it makes sense and needs to happen on a much broader basis. But this often gets overlooked, with companies often having a shorter-term vision that is largely focused on earnings and returns, rather than a long-term approach to things like sustainability efforts.

A report in the Wall Street Journal provided some perspective on how Levi plans to go about its supply chain sustainability goals beginning with implementing energy-efficiency programs at 60 of the 580 factories and mills the company directly works with and represent the largest share of Levi’s production volume, as well as its carbon footprint.

The WSJ report pointed out that across various sectors there has been “growing support for broader collective efforts to address sustainability and fair labor standards in supply chains.” And it noted that the Consumer Goods Forum, an organization focused on developing and implementing global sustainability and labor standards is playing an active role on that front.

One key way for shippers to meet their sustainability targets is by establishing common standards set through collaboration across supplier networks, Yossi Sheffi, director of MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics, in the WSJ report.

The reason for this, he explained, is it provides leverage and it does not frustrate suppliers with different requirements and it can be audited. Sheffi also noted that it can be hard for shippers to calculate their total carbon emissions, due to the fact that the “true impact stretches beyond factories and even fabric mills to raw materials providers and transport operations.”

Again, it goes without saying that supply chain sustainability is not optional. In fact, it could, and should, be viewed as imperative. Newsroom Notes commends Levi Strauss & Co. for being an industry leader in these efforts.   

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman


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