Everlane and Deckers are working toward carbon-reduction targets backed by science.
This week, Everlane said it’s teaming up with the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) as it works to set emissions reductions goals grounded in scientific research. The dual-gender lifestyle brand counts itself as one of the first small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) to join SBTi, which will measure and report its progress to the public.
The organization, which provides auditing and guidance on how to achieve carbon reduction goals, bases its framework on the Paris climate agreement edict that global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less in order to curb negative impacts to the global ecology. In line with that target, Everlane has worked with SBTi to develop the goals of lowering its own greenhouse gas (GHG) output.
In order to determine a pathway for those reductions, the brand began with a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which pinpointed the areas in its value chain with the highest impacts. The goals developed with SBTi include slashing 46 percent of emissions in its stores and headquarters (Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions), as well as addressing per-product outputs (Scope 3), which it hopes to reduce by 55 percent by 2030. By 2050, the brand aims to achieve net-zero emissions.
“We are prioritizing areas of high impact and direct control first, and have already started work in many areas,” Everlane sustainability director Katina Boutis told Sourcing Journal. Those reductions will take place “while we set longer term goals for indirect emissions that will require greater levels of influence and partnership.”
Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, which represent carbon output generated onsite (like heating stores and offices using a boiler) or using fossil fuels from conventional power plants, are among the easier outputs to track and address. Everlane currently purchases renewable energy certificates for all of the electricity used in its facilities, Boutis said.
But Scope 3 emissions, which come from the production of products offsite, are more difficult to analyze and control. These impacts make up 99 percent of the Everlane’s GHG emissions, which the company aims to more than halve.
Everlane said raw materials production and product manufacturing generate the majority of its Scope 3. In order to curb the release of GHGs, it has worked with SBTi to develop the objectives of increasing the use of recycled and renewable content in its lines, and replacing high-impact fibers with lower-impact alternatives.
“We know through our GHG footprinting analysis that roughly 60 percent of our emissions impacts are attributed to raw materials, making our material choices a high priority for our emissions reduction plan,” Boutis said. “We have identified virgin raw materials as particularly impactful, with virgin animal fibers and materials being our highest opportunity for reductions.”
Recycled alternatives with lower emissions profiles like ReCashmere, ReKnit and ReDown could take the place of these inputs, she said, and recycled leather and cashmere have already made appearances in current product lines.
Boutis said Everlane has made significant strides in its 2018 No New Plastics commitment, and has achieved a supply chain 90 percent free of virgin plastic. The company is also working to address the carbon impacts of transportation—from raw materials moving through the supply chain to factories, to end products delivered to shoppers.
But much of Everlane’s work centers on engaging with factory partners and upstream producers to reduce their carbon impact. “For a company of our size, we have successfully been able to strategically choose many Tier 1 factory partners (finished goods manufacturers) that are already aligned with greatly reducing carbon emissions,” Boutis said, noting that “this is still an area of opportunity and a work in progress.”
When analyzing its supply chain emissions holistically, however, Everlane found that the largest GHG contributors were primarily in Tiers 2 and 3, from fabric mills to yarn spinners and wet processing units. “Manufacturing emissions are difficult to address, because they represent emissions that are not under our direct control,” Boutis said. “In many ways, our success in achieving our goals is dependent on our ability to influence (and partner with) our upstream manufacturing partners to set and work towards their own carbon reduction commitments.”
In order to ensure forward movement, the brand plans to leverage tools like the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM), the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s tool for measuring and verifying environmental impacts. “Focusing on electricity, energy, and water efficiency measures in those impactful manufacturing processes and powering those plants with renewables will greatly reduce our supply chain (Scope 3) emissions,” she said.
“We plan to partner with our key suppliers to help invest in efficiency, retrofits and the transition to renewables to reach our 2030 goals,” Boutis said, noting that the brand aims to help build—not just demand—a better value chain. “We all need to hold hands, and hold each other accountable, to reach these goals.”
Deckers Brands also laid out its own set of science-based targets. This week, the owner of Ugg, Teva, Hoka One One and Sanuk said it was working on a pathway to curbing emissions.
The Creating Change sustainability report detailed Deckers’ commitments for the future of its business, which include both social and environmental improvements to its global supply chain affecting all of its subsidiaries.
From April 1, 2020 through March 31 of this year, the footwear company audited the carbon footprint of its operations, working with the Carbon Trust to calculate the impact of its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. From there, the company created and committed to a suite of SBTi-approved benchmarks.
Deckers and its owned brands will reduce absolute GHG outputs from its Scope 1 and 2 operations by 46 percent (from a 2019 baseline) by 2030, while cutting Scope 3 GHGs by 58 percent per each million dollars in gross profit, it said.
CEO Dave Powers said the company is on its way to achieving those goals. As of October, Deckers’ corporate headquarters in Goleta, Calif. is using 100-percent renewable energy, reducing its Scope 1 emissions. It has also monitored 14 of its Tier 1 production partners (factories that produce its products) and noted a decline in their energy consumption.
The company is especially invested in mitigating the impacts of raw materials production, as well as curbing product waste and addressing end-of-life concerns. Deckers has committed more than $3.3 million to restoring 1,000,000 acres of land by 2025 through for regenerative farming practices with the Savory Institute, Powers said. During 2021, the company established a grant with Savory that will help it transition the Australian sheepskin industry (which supplies brands like Ugg) to one that takes into account soil health and biodiversity, regenerating rather than depleting land of its nutrients after agricultural use.
Deckers is also finalizing a material lifecycle assessment, and aims to maximize the use of “preferred materials,” like recycled, renewable, regenerative and certified natural inputs. It has studied environmental impact metrics from the use of fossil fuels to GHGs, water usage and freshwater eutrophication. It has concurrently launched initiatives to address the end-of-life stage for its products, including a refurbishment program for Ugg and a recycling partner for Teva sandals.
“I am proud of our bold commitment to reducing our environmental footprint through the establishment of science-based targets,” Powers said. “Our Creating Change report highlights the positive environmental, social and governance impacts we are making, which is made possible by the collective passion and commitment of our dedicated employees who live by our value of doing good and doing great.”
“While we have made great efforts in our environmental journey, as evidenced by our science-based targets, our social impact has also been tremendous,” Deckers chief administrative officer Thomas Garcia added. “In a year that was filled with so much global uncertainty, we are proud to continue doing good for our communities, the factories in which we operate, and the planet on which we live.”