May 27, 2021 Higg launches customer-facing transparency program
Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Higg launch new program for publicly sharing data on a product’s environmental impact: Amazon, H&M, and Norrøna among first to participate.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a global multi-stakeholder nonprofit alliance for the consumer goods industry, along with its technology partner Higg, has launched the first phase of a transparency program for publicly sharing data on a product’s environmental impact, starting with its materials content. The program provides a consistent way for brands, retailers, and manufacturers to share sustainability information on apparel and footwear products, across impact categories such as water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and use of fossil fuels. Built on a decade’s worth of tool development, consumer testing, and contributed environmental impact data, this first phase of the Higg Index transparency program is an important step toward a unified approach for industry-wide transparency – in order to provide shoppers with unprecedented visibility into a product’s real impact.
The main components of the program are the Higg Index Sustainability Profile and the Higg Index Materials seal, both of which are based on independent and externally reviewed environmental impact data from the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI). SAC members including outdoor brands like Columbia Sportswear, Helly Hansen, Lenzing AG, Norrøna and Salomon announced their commitment to implement the first phase of the program on a wide selection of products available in the U.S. and Europe. At launch, the program will focus on the environmental impact of a product’s materials, and will expand over the next two years to incorporate additional data including manufacturing and corporate responsibility.
A new scorecard for environmental impact
A primary component of the program is the Higg Index Sustainability Profile, which is a new scorecard for sharing data on a product’s environmental impact. Beginning today, Norrøna will embed Higg Index Sustainability Profiles on their e-commerce platforms in the U.S. and Europe, with plans to scale up to additional products throughout the year. Salomon plans to implement Sustainability Profiles on its platforms in the coming months.
“Change demands real performance data”
This first phase will focus on evaluating material environmental impacts, leveraging data from the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), part of the Higg Index suite of sustainability measurement tools developed by the SAC. The Higg MSI is a tool used by designers, product developers, and analysts to understand the costs, benefits, and tradeoffs of different materials that serve the same functional purpose for a product (for instance, comparing a recycled fiber to its conventional version). Using the Higg MSI helps companies create products with a lower environmental impact – and now brands and retailers can share information on impact reduction with customers in an accessible and credible way.
“Transparency itself is not the end game, but it’s a critical step for transforming the industry and establishing a new era of accountability,” said Amina Razvi, Executive Director of the SAC.
“By leveraging the Higg Index — starting first with environmental data and then expanding to include social impacts — we can help both businesses and consumers make better decisions, and drive collective action at scale.”
During the course of the program’s development, a stakeholder expert panel, consisting of academics and NGOs, has provided objective feedback, insights, and recommendations on the program, and the process was facilitated and managed by an independent third-party to ensure objectivity in engagement and input. Over the next 18 months, the transparency program will expand to incorporate environmental facility data through the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) as well as brand and retail operations data through the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM). By early 2023, the program will have expanded to incorporate social data from facilities, becoming the first holistic system for communicating sustainability performance across a product’s lifecycle.
“Change demands real performance data that indicates how well a brand, a supply chain, a product, or a material performs compared to others,” said Jason Kibbey, CEO of Higg.
“With the Higg Index established as the industry’s common methodology, our technology can now provide that data out to the public in a consistent and clear way. We aim to serve both concerned shoppers as well as responsible businesses, both of whom are looking for better information to make more sustainable choices.”
About the Sustainable Apparel Coalition
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a global multi-stakeholder nonprofit alliance for the consumer goods industry. It’s made up of more than 250 leading apparel, footwear and textile, brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, nonprofits, NGOs and academic institutions working to reduce environmental impact and promote social justice throughout the global value chain.
Higg is the sustainability insights platform for consumer goods industries, delivering software and services for measuring, managing, and sharing supply chain performance data. From materials to products, from facilities to stores, across energy, waste, water, and working conditions, Higg unlocks a complete view of a business’s social and environmental impact.