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Ugg Owner Reaches Leather and Wool Sourcing Milestones

Twelve years into its sustainability journey, Deckers says it’s making significant progress in transitioning to environmentally friendly materials and convincing supply chain partners to convert to carbon-reducing processes.

The Ugg, Teva and Hoka owner’s latest corporate responsibility report details progress in reducing Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. Deckers is “harnessing” its “influence to promote more sustainable business practices not only in our own operations, but among our manufacturing and supply chain partners,” president and CEO Dave Powers wrote.

All of Deckers’ brands have reduced per-pair footwear-based emissions, along with water and energy use, and are working toward physical intensity targets in partnership with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Deckers has expanded environmental monitoring programs among manufacturing partners, and monitoring upstream suppliers through ongoing life-cycle assessment outreach.

Material sourcing is a significant focus. Deckers said it is on track to reach its 2027 goal of replacing 55 percent of footwear materials with preferred materials such certified organic or non-virgin fibers, having reached 34 percent in 2022. The company this year achieves its goal of sourcing all leather, suede and sheepskin hides used in footwear from recycled sources or Leather Working Group (LWG)-certified tanneries. Deckers said it is on its way to achieving the same success with leather sourced for apparel and accessories, reaching over 97-percent LWG-certified inputs this year.

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The company is also making progress with virgin wool, which it has pledged to eliminate from its footwear product lines or source from Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certified suppliers. Deckers said that 99.9 percent of wool met those criteria this year. It is seeing slower movement in its apparel, accessories and home goods supply chain, which aims to achieve the same sourcing goals by 2025. Only about 11 percent of wool used across those categories was recycled or RWS-certified.

The company is continuing to address upstream environmental impacts in its wool supply chain through its continued work with the Savory Institute, which supports regenerative sheep farming practices. Deckers’ participation has gotten more than 40 Australian farms to transition 200,000 acres to processes promoting biodiversity and soil health. Last month, Ugg said it released its first fully regenerative sheepskin boot.

As for goals to use sustainably farmed or recycled cotton by 2025, just under 33 percent of the cotton fibers used in shoes were recycled or sourced from farms that use sustainable growing practices, while apparel has hit just under 100 percent.

Deckers said it would replace 65 percent of all co-polyester fibers and films in its footwear with versions from post-consumer, post-industrial, or renewable resources by 2030. It has reached about 33 percent so far, largely from Teva‘s work using recycled polyester in uppers. Meanwhile, Deckers aims to source 40 percent of its poly-based fibers and films for other product lines such as apparel from similar sources by 2027, and achieved close to 7 percent in 2022.

“We’re excited to share our progress made toward our Sustainable Development Goals,” chief administrative officer Thomas Garci said. “Harnessing the collective passion of our employees and our supply chain partners across the globe has truly made it possible to create meaningful change.”

Deckers said its LEED Silver certified Moreno Valley, Calif. distribution center is now seeking to become a zero-waste facility by the end of next year. The 1.6 million-square-foot facility recycles 95 percent of its total waste output, up 2 percent from last year. “We know we have some work to do and we look forward to completion of this target,” the company added. To address energy usage, Deckers has installed 120 solar panels, and has implemented operating systems that are programmed to conserve energy based on inactivity.

On the diversity and inclusion front, as of March 2022 Deckers said 21 percent of leaders director-level and above in its U.S. businesses are Black, indigenous or people of color (BIPOC)—a 9 percent increase since 2020 when it laid out plans to boost representation. Currently, 44 percent of Deckers’ corporate new hires are from BIPOC communities.

“We have embedded diversity, equity and inclusion into all aspects of our organization,” Powers said.