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Levi's
(Via Levi Strauss & Co.)

A T-shirt and pair of jeans may be a staple of many wardrobes, but think about the recycling possibilities if one could be made from the other. That’s just what Levi Strauss & Co. has done with textile technology from Seattle-based startup Evrnu.

LS&Co. and Evrnu announced last week that they had created a pair of 511 jeans manufactured from a mix of virgin cotton and yarn made from approximately five discarded cotton T-shirts. The jean prototype relies on a new, patent-pending recycling technology where discarded consumer waste is converted into renewable fiber.

Stacy Flynn and Christopher Stanev
Stacy Flynn and Christopher Stanev of Evrnu. (Via Fledge)

Evrnu said in a news release that each year in the U.S. alone, 13.1 million tons of textile waste is created and of this 11 million tons ends up in landfills. The Levi’s prototype is produced with 98 percent less water than virgin cotton products.

Both companies say they are committed to the vision of creating a circular economy that extends the life of cotton and eliminates waste. Evrnu says its technology “safely converts post-consumer cotton garment waste by breaking down to the molecular level and converting into a high quality, premium textile fiber.”

“LS&Co. was the perfect first partner for us to demonstrate our technology and capability as they are an iconic American company with a product that’s recognized around the world,” Evrnu CEO Stacy Flynn said in a news release. “Our aspiration is to build a pair of Levi’s jeans that are just as beautiful and strong as the original and we’re making great progress toward that goal.”

Evrnu was founded in 2014 for the purpose of addressing the problem of the resource-intensive, environmentally negative impact of the textile & apparel industries. The company was born of out of Fledge, the Seattle incubator for socially conscious startups headed by entrepreneur Michael “Luni” Libes.

A video on the Fledge website includes Flynn and two other Fabric of Change winners discussing their visions for the industry.

Update: This story has been corrected to show that a portion of virgin cotton is contained in the prototype jeans.

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