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Levi’s To Eliminate Hazardous Chemicals After Greenpeace Protest

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Levi Strauss jeans hanging on display at a Levi's store (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Levi Strauss jeans hanging on display at a Levi’s store (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — 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.

Greenpeace activists gathered Wednesday at the denim maker’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.

The company statement about the activists’ chemical campaign continued, “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.

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. Levi Strauss & Co. will continue to be a leader in this effort.”

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, Fallon said.

“This is the result of an ongoing effort worldwide,” she said. “Levi’s commitment has gotten stronger.”

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

The protest began around 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 about a strengthened commitment to greener manufacturing.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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