“We are engaged in and committed to continual change and improvement. Our goals and roadmap are clear and so much has already been achieved. Together with our team we will continue to push forward with positive change. Better products and a better business for a healthier planet.”
This is our fifth annual transparency report. It details how we operate as a fashion business and highlights our ethical and environmental journey. It looks at our internal operations, our people and the culture that make ELK a unique Australian brand. It serves as a public statement around our commitment to running a business with transparency, honesty and integrity, and tracks our progress against our 2025 goals.
Our Commitment to Transparency
1% FOR THE
We fulfilled our membership commitment to 1% for the Planet and donated 1% of all sales to environmental non-profit groups. This ongoing partnership reflects our strong commitment to protecting the environment. We donated a total of $210k in cash, products, and volunteer hours to our charity partners, up from $126K in TR2022.
In collaboration with our customers we donated $10k to our matched giving partner, Karrkad Kanjdji Trust, which is owned and led by First Nations people.
Through our ongoing partnership with TreeProject with our $2 donation for every online order, we have supported the planting of more than 135,000 native seedlings since 2020.
We completed 333 hours of volunteering, just 5% shy of our target of 350 hours for this year. We have now achieved 55% of our 2025 target.
ACTION PLAN (SAP)
We collaborated with 6 of our core suppliers to develop tailored sustainability action plans helping them set clear goals and take action to mitigate their environmental impact over a three-year timeline.
We increased our preferred cotton use to 78% of our total cotton consumed, up from 59% in TR2022.
We continue to uphold our commitment to the Transparency Pledge and are publishing our full supplier lists for Tiers 1 to 4 on the Open Supply Hub.
Our collections were made with 64% of ELK Environmentally Preferred Fibres & Materials, up from 45% in TR2022.
ELK’s leadership team has approved an ambitious project to set a Net-Zero emissions target using the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) framework by the end of 2024. In the interim, we remain committed to reducing our absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 100% by 2030 vs 2018 baseline. Presently, we have achieved 94% reduction vs 2018.
MAPPING SCOPE 3
We mapped and reported on our Scope 3 emissions for the first time. This is a major enabler for setting our SBTi Net-Zero emissions target.
ELK’s direct operations have been powered by 100% renewable electricity since May 2021, with our onsite solar providing 47% of our electricity and the balance purchased as 100% GreenPower.
We moved into a new office complete with a beehive, worm farms and a stormwater tank. We retained much of the existing infrastructure, and installed a custom-built, highly efficient air conditioning and heating system, and sourced nearly all second-hand furniture.
CARE & REPAIR
We launched our Care & Repair program, a series focused on how to wear and care for ELK products in a way that will prolong their life and minimize their environmental impact. This initiative is aimed at including the ELK customer in our circularity journey.
We now have 81% recycled content across all ELK packaging and printing materials, up from 74% in TR2022.
94% of our operational waste is recycled. After the RedCycle collapse, we worked hard to identify and onboard a new partner for soft plastics recycling – Reground. This ensures any waste in this category now has a solution.
1. Validation and re-certification for 1% for the Planet will occur in or after October 2023 as there is a 120-day grace period post the close of financial year to allow organisations to complete their financial statements and make any additional donations to fulfill the commitment. We have already made all our donations and are awaiting re-certification.
From our founders
We would like to throw a positive light into a space that can feel very gloomy. Taking stock of our achievements and celebrating advancement is important as there is so much wonderful change happening not only at ELK, but also broadly in the industry. To be honest though, sometimes we can feel a bit stuck. Trying to balance the many positives whilst making sense of the slow pace of change in our field, alongside the behaviour of many consumers flocking to fast-fashion companies who are reporting record sales, is hard.
Someone we respect deeply asked us recently whether we question if fashion can ever be truly sustainable. The answer is, we grapple with this question every day. Even for us, however many goals we achieve and however good our intentions are, we still have an impact and we will do ongoing as long as our product lives on in the world.
So, we remind ourselves that we are trying to offer better products in comparison to what else is in the marketplace. We hold ourselves accountable by measuring everything and then publicly sharing the results. We do not want to mislead anyone or hide behind empty words and unsubstantiated claims.
We use our pillars of planet, product and people to guide us and help us balance our impact and make damn sure we are clear that we don’t have everything sorted. Excitingly, we have more sophisticated data than ever, after having measured a large portion of our Scope 3 emissions for the first time, a big piece of work that few other fashion companies have undertaken.
Our work is progressing through our focus on circularity, material sourcing, partnerships, GHG emissions and supply chain. We are working closely with suppliers on customised sustainability action plans and at home we are working on our communication strategy to broaden awareness and understanding.
Our to do list is long but we have more clarity than we have ever had. We understand how much we are in control of the change - as long as we drive it and do not give up.
So, let’s go, we have a lot to do.
Marnie Goding and Adam Koniaras, ELK Co-founders
From our Head
The past year has been a transformational journey in how we embody sustainability at ELK. The progress outlined in this report is a testimony to the hard work of our team and how deeply our suppliers and customers care about the way in which we make our products.
One of the most significant developments has been our commitment to set a Net-Zero emissions target aligned with the 1.5°C pathway of the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) before the end of 2024.
Why is this a big deal? It helps us align with the Paris Agreement’s overarching goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The Net-Zero pathway necessitates rapid decarbonisation of our value chain & operations without being reliant on carbon offsets. This is a tremendously challenging task for a business our size, but it is the right thing to do and will deliver direct positive environmental impact than our previous goal of becoming carbon neutral.
We have already taken a major step in our Net-Zero journey and have for the first-time measured the carbon footprint of our value chain, which has showed this is where 99% of our environmental impact is. Materials are the biggest opportunity for reducing our environmental impact. One of the ways we can do this is by continuing to increase the use of ELK preferred fibres in our collections. Despite challenging market conditions, we have increased our preferred fibre use to 64%, up from 45% in our previous reporting period.
Another highlight has been the roll out of our sustainability action plans (SAPs) for our core suppliers. The SAPs are a simple step-by-step guide for our suppliers to align with our sustainability expectations and an important part of our Net-Zero journey.
Other significant achievements for the past year include the launch of our care & repair program, fulfilling our commitment to 1% for the Planet, continuing to be powered by 100% renewable electricity for our direct operations, and starting our in-house materials life cycle assessment (LCA) program.
Looking ahead, we will be redefining certain aspects our sustainability strategy, including our preferred materials guide and an increased focus on data. We will also keep an eye on product stewardship and ESG reporting developments.
I thank you for taking the time to read our transparency report and hope that you find it to be honest, transparent, and insightful.
Vaibhav Gaikwad, Head of Sustainability
To responsibly create product with enduring value through a thoughtful, intelligent design philosophy, crafted with an artisanal aesthetic. To lead a conscious business supporting traditional trades and a circular economy that operates ethically and transparently, in safe, fair and inclusive workplaces. To minimise our environmental footprint and create a positive impact on our local and global communities.
approach to the SDGs
The United Nations have developed a set of 17 goals for ending poverty, improving health and education, addressing inequality, sustainable economic growth, tackling climate change and preserving our oceans and forests. We have aligned our 2025 goals and actions with these UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although our strategy touches on many of the SDGs, we have identified the goals that as a fashion business we believe we can contribute to in a meaningful way.
Our Commitments & Progress
We will continue to review and add to these commitments as we progress our strategy in various areas.
Donate 1% of our annual revenue to approved environmental not–for–profits.
SDGS 5, 10, 17
The ELK team will contribute a total of 1500 paid volunteer hours by 2025.
SDG 5, 10, 17
CARBON FOOTPRINT: DIRECT EMISSIONS
Reduce our absolute Scope 1 & scope 2 GHG emissions 100% by 2030 (from 2018 baseline)
SDGs 7, 12, 13, 14, 15
NET-ZERO EMISSIONS: TARGET SETTING
Set a Net-Zero target for our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions in line with SBTi 1.5°C pathway. We mapped and reported on our Scope 3 emissions for the first time. This is a major enabler for setting our SBTi Net-Zero emissions target.
SDGs 7, 12, 13, 14, 15
PACKAGING & PRINTING
100% of packaging and printed materials will be either reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
Packaging and printed materials will contain at least 50% recycled content across all by 2025.
SDGs 3, 12, 14, 15
PAPER & CARDBOARD
At least 60% recycled or next generation paper fibre content.1
Packaging & printed materials will contain at least 50% recycled content by 2025.
SDGs 3, 12, 14, 15
WASTE & RECYCLING
Zero waste to landfill for our business operations by 2025.
SDGs 7, 12, 13, 14, 15
Eliminate problematic single–use plastics from our packaging by 2025.
SDGs 3, 12, 14, 15
Trace and publish 100% of our defined tier 1 – 4 suppliers by 2025.
100% TIER 1
86% TIER 2
34% TIER 3
32% TIER 4
100% of our core suppliers will have globally recognised responsible business initiatives by 2025.2
SDGS 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 17
ELK products will be made with at least 80% environmentally preferred materials by 2025.3
SDGs 6, 12, 14, 15
At least 20% of our fibres and materials will be from recycled sources by 2025.
SDGs 6, 12, 14, 15
1. Applies to packaging and printed materials and includes post–consumer recycled fibres and fibres from agricultural residues.
2. Core suppliers are our direct product suppliers with greater than USD$50K annual spend. Acceptable responsible business initiatives include certifications such as SA8000, Fairtrade, Fair Wear Foundation, WRAP, and B–Corporation, as well as participation in Better Work or Sustainable Apparel Coalition HIGG Index programs.
3. As defined by our ELK Preferred Fibres and Materials Guide.
Products + Materials
We are supporting sustainable forestry, regenerative farming, and clean chemistry by switching to more ethically produced and environmentally preferred fibres and materials.
Our preference is to work with natural materials that are renewable and biodegradable. Where synthetics are required for performance, we are limiting their use and seeking out certified recycled options. We support circular design principles and are working to increase our use of recycled materials.
We continue to map our supply chain to better understand where and how our products and raw materials are produced, so that we can manage risks and identify opportunities for improvement.
Total TR2023 material use by weight across all product categories.1
1. Figures based on FY2022-2023 unit purchases, product weight and composition. Where data was not available, we have used averages to calculate as accurately as possible. Data excludes trims and hardware.
2. MMCF: Man–made cellulosic fibres.
ELK PREFERRED FIBRES & MATERIALS GUIDE
This guide rates fibres and materials based on their ethical and environmental credentials, as well as our approach to sourcing responsibly. It is a core reference for our design team and incorporates a mix of materials we are already using, we aspire to use, we need to work on improving, and those we avoid.
The A+, A & B categories make up our preferred fibres and materials, aligned with our 2025 materials goals. This guide was updated in December 2021, and the A+ category was added to capture the transformational materials that we are looking to use more of.
These innovative next generation materials are regenerative and circular, including fibre–to–fibre recycled and agricultural wastes.
of our 2023 material buy by weight was rated transformational
These low impact materials include options that are renewable, biodegradable, as well as sustainably grown and processed.
of our TR2023 material buy by weight was rated HIGH performer
These materials have good environmental credentials, and are a better choice than most.
of our 2023 Material buy by weight was rated Great option
Could be better
We will continue our search for more sustainable or certified options for these materials.
of our TR2023 material buy by weight was rated could be better
We are working to phase these materials out. If they are needed for performance and a better option isn’t available, we will aim for less than 10% of the total composition.
of our TR2023 Material buy by weight was rated phasing out
These materials are not produced in an ethical or environmentally responsible way, and we will not use them.
of our TR2023 material buy by weight was rated we avoid
A Global Family
Supply Chain: Responsible Sourcing
We work with a range of makers across different product categories and production countries. Our preference is to work with suppliers who are going over and above compliance and implementing responsible social and environmental practices.
Each of our suppliers is at a different stage of their sustainability journey, with some just beginning the process and a handful well advanced and showing real innovation and leadership. We want to bring our makers on this journey with us and work collaboratively with them to support the workers who make our products and reduce environmental impact.
SUPPLIERS BY REGION1
PERCENTAGE OF TR2023 SPEND
1. Tier 2 spend calculated according to the spend between ELK and the connecting Tier 1 supplier.
OUR TOP 12 CORE SUPPLIERS (BY SPEND)
THESE SUPPLIERS MAKE UP 89% OF OUR TR2023 SPEND
We are committed to mapping our supply chain and tracing our fibres and materials right back to their origin, and ensuring that our products are made responsibly, with regard for workers, animals and the environment.
By 2025, our goal is to have our supply chain fully mapped and published and 100% of our core direct suppliers with credible, globally recognised, social or environmental certifications.
Tier one suppliers are our product manufacturers who cut, sew, and assemble our products.
We have mapped
of our tier one supply chain
Tier two suppliers are our mills, dyehouses, printers, laundries, and tanneries.
We have mapped
of our tier two supply chain
Tier three suppliers are our raw material processors including staple fibre producers, spinners, abattoirs and other raw material processors.
We have mapped
of our tier three supply chain
Tier four suppliers are our raw material producers including farms, forests and mines.
We have mapped
of our tier four supply chain
GIVING BACK TR2023
TR2023 TOTAL DONATIONS
OUR OPERATIONS & VALUE CHAIN
Caring for the planet we inhabit is at the core of our conscious fashion philosophy. We do this by minimising our environmental impact through initiatives such as powering our direct operations through 100% renewable energy, reducing our waste to landfill, and using responsible sourcing practices for store design and product materials. For the first time ever we have also measured our value chain (Scope 3) emissions.
“The decision to measure our Scope 3 emissions is an exceptional step for a business of our size and provides us with a new level of visibility on our emissions by including our value chain and not just our operations. We will continue to optimise this measurement and use it to inform future decisions and targets.”
Vaibhav, ELK Head of Sustainability
Scopes 1 & 2S
We continue to power our direct operations with 100% renewable energy, with our onsite solar providing 47% of our electricity and the balance purchased as 100% GreenPower.
Our value chain or Scope 3 emissions account for 99% of our carbon footprint. Unsurprisingly, materials are the largest contributor to these emissions and account for 63%. Focusing a bit more on materials emissions, we find the material we use most (MMCFs) accounts for the highest proportion of materials emissions (23%). Leather and wool are the next most significant contributors accounting for 21% and 19% of the materials emissions respectively.
Setting a Net-Zero emissions target aligned with the 1.5°C pathway of the SBTi will be a priority for us in the coming year. We will continue to refine our value chain emissions footprint by expanding the scope of categories included in it and getting better data and visibility from our suppliers.
We will also work on expanding the scope of our materials life cycle assessment to include additional life cycle stages such as manufacturing, use, and end-of-life.
We hope to keep our products in circulation for as long as possible. We are conscious of the impact that the wider fashion industry has on landfill, both through waste produced during manufacturing and the disposal of clothing and textiles at the end of their life. This not only allows precious resources to lose their value, but also contributes to CO2 and chemical release into the environment.
With this in mind, we are working to adjust our systems and develop programs that minimise the waste produced from ELK products, supporting a more circular approach. Whether it’s using up discarded leathers within the supply chain to create new products, or repairing existing ELK products, we aim to take accountability over the full life cycle of our products.