• Brands & Retailers
  • Higg FEM
  • Higg MSI

Discover how a leading international clothing retailer utilizes Higg FEM and Higg MSI to shape their decarbonization strategy and pave the way for meaningful change.

Primark logo
colorful cloth hanging on clothing line with pins
February 06, 2024

“We’re a large business, responsible for producing over six million tonnes of CO2e emissions across our value chain each year. Reducing our carbon footprint is imperative to meet our environmental commitments and to ensure we do our part to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Our Primark Cares strategy cements our commitment to halving carbon emissions across our value chain by 2030.

— Dan Roe, Climate Change Programme Senior Manager, at Primark.


Primark, a leading international clothing retailer employing over 75,000 people in 16 countries, launched Primark Cares, their sustainability strategy, in 2021. Over the past three years, the company has focused on developing a decarbonization program for its value chain, with their headline target looking at a 50 percent reduction in absolute Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions by 2030 from an FY19 baseline. A significant milestone, Primark’s science-based targets received validation from the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) in 2023, showcasing their commitment to align with global efforts to combat climate change.

In addressing emissions from their own operations, the company committed to reducing energy use in their retail locations and incorporating renewable energy. However, a substantial 97.5 percent of their base year carbon emissions occurred in their supply chain. As a result, Primark is focused on collaborating with suppliers to address emissions and reduce their carbon footprint. Utilizing the Higg FEM and Higg MSI tools enables Primark to understand and measure the environmental impacts of their supply chain.

The Higg FEM serves as a key source of supply chain primary data, empowering Primark to calculate a more precise carbon footprint. This tool captures the outcomes of emissions reduction initiatives targeting facilities in their supply chain and demonstrates progress toward their overarching decarbonization target. Notably, in 20221, 1,083 of Primark’s supplier facilities completed the Higg FEM self-assessment, with 590 sites undergoing verification of their self-assessments and achieving an average score of 56 percent. These scores offer valuable insights, enabling factories to pinpoint opportunities for enhancing environmental performance. In addition to the Higg FEM, Primark also leverages data and insights from the Higg MSI to calculate supply chain emissions. This tool provides valuable LCA data specific to the materials and goods procured by Primark.

Since joining Cascale in 2015, Primark has worked with their supply chain partners to adopt the Higg Index to assess environmental impact. With the roll-out of the Higg Index across their supply chain, the company embraces a standardized measurement of environmental sustainability performance, enabling continuous improvement efforts.

1 Figures refer to Higg FEM modules covering 2022 calendar year data.

Brooks Running

  • Brands & Retailers
  • Higg PM
  • Higg MSI

Read how this American-based performance athletic company uses Higg Product Tools to assess their environmental footprint.

Brooks Running logo
A running track with white lines and trees
November 10, 2023

“The Higg Product Tools empowered us to craft a sustainable strategy that aligns with our Planet 2030 commitments. With a solid understanding of the environmental footprint of materials and products across their life cycles, we are now equipped with data-driven insights to make informed decisions and realize our vision for a sustainable future. By leveraging these innovative tools, we’re not just running towards sustainability – we’re redefining the race.” 

— David Kemp, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Brooks Running


Brooks Running harnessed the power of the Higg Product Tools, including the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and Higg Product Module (PM), to gain insights into its environmental impact and build strategies to achieve its climate and environmental commitments. The company used the tools to meticulously assess the impacts of both the raw materials (Tier 4) and processing stages (Tier 2 and 3) that contribute to its product ecosystem.

The Higg Index tools are fueled by collaboration. Brooks Running’s dedicated corporate responsibility team worked closely with suppliers to collect material-specific information – from composition and raw material type to dyeing and finishing methods. In instances where suppliers did not provide enough information, the team utilized the Higg MSI’s default values to ensure comprehensive coverage. Through this work, they were able to assess their environmental impact and identify which materials aligned best with their Planet 2030 commitments. The resulting reporting provided Brooks Running with a more accurate emissions factor for each material’s global warming potential, which was used to improve the accuracy of the company’s corporate Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol emissions reporting.

In addition to their use of the Higg MSI, Brooks Running continued to scale its adoption of the Higg PM – entering footwear and apparel materials into the Higg MSI in order to evaluate the environmental impact of footwear and apparel styles through the Higg PM.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition Talks Data on GreenBiz x EDF Webcast

  • Higg PM
  • Higg MSI
  • Higg Index Tools
Photo of wind turbines in a green forested area
November 09, 2023

Joël Mertens, director Higg Product Tools Sustainable Apparel Coalition, joined a recent GreenBiz webcast sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund to discuss “How Circularity Can Help Advance Your Net Zero Strategy.” Hosted by Kori Goldberg, circular economy manager at GreenBiz, additional speakers included Andy Ruben, founder and executive director at Trove, Pete Edmunds, sustainability director at Deloitte, and EDF’s Thorfinn Stainforth, senior policy analyst at Environmental Defense Fund, and Elizabeth Strurcken, managing director.


The conversation was inspired by a new report from EDF and Deloitte, which outlines how companies can gain value and advance net-zero goals by transitioning to circular strategies – including reaching new markets and advancing climate outcomes.


After Sturcken introduced the report as the third in a collaborative series with Deloitte intended to help businesses make tangible progress towards their net-zero goals, Edmunds shared industry-specific circularity strategies for the textiles, packaging and automatic industries. He highlighted Lululemon’s plant-based nylon and the Loop reverse logistics programs, as well as the automotive industry’s shift to mobility as a service and battery reprocessing to meet demand from the growing EV market. Then, Ruben discussed a recent study on which Trove collaborated with Worldly, the exclusive licensee of the SAC’s Higg Index Tools, to determine the carbon savings of resale in comparison to rental and subscription.


Mertens emphasized the importance of pre-competitive collaboration in moving from commitment to action, stressing the success of this model in developing the Higg Index Tools. He shared that elements of circularity are embedded in the Higg Product Tools and provide a solid foundation for brands exploring circularity. However, he cautioned that brands should be careful about communicating circularity to consumers in the absence of impact measurements, as this can be construed as greenwashing.


Finally, Stainforth outlined circular policy developments in the EU, including their global impact, and three ways that companies can move faster and further on circularity.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition Discusses “Actions to the Sustainability Journey” at Fashion Summit Hong Kong

  • Higg MSI
  • Higg FEM
  • Higg Index Tools
  • Collective Action
Joyce Tsoi speaking on stage at Fashion Summit HK
October 23, 2023

SAC executives Jeremy Lardeau, Vice President Higg Index, and Joyce Tsoi, Director, Collective Action Programs, APAC, presented at Fashion Summit (HK), the sustainable fashion event funded by Create Hong Kong and organized by the Clothing Industry Training Authority (CITA), in support of the 2024 theme: “Actions to the Sustainability Journey.” After opening speeches from Richard Cheng, Chairman of Fashion Summit (HK) 2023, Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, GBS, JP Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, HKSAR Government, Hon. Sunny Tan, Member of the HKSAR Legislative Council (Textiles & Garment), and Yang Xiaodong, Vice President of the China Garment Association, Jeremy Lardeau, Vice President Higg Index, offered a keynote presentation on sustainability analytics in the apparel industry.

Lardeau initially shared background information about the SAC, the global multi-stakeholder nonprofit alliance that represents a diverse global membership of over 280 members – about 50% of the apparel and textile industry – in 36 countries. Lardeau explained that over the past two years, the organization has seen the greatest amount of growth, demonstrating the collaborative momentum of the industry coming together to address systemic challenges and co-develop solutions with an approach based in equal partnership.

Lardeau explored how the SAC’s work is anchored by the Higg Index, a suite of tools that measures social and environmental impact through five core tools based in three key categories: two Higg Product Tools and three Higg Facility Tools. “Developed in collaboration with our members, and employed throughout the decade as working tools achieving measurable sustainability goals, the Higg Index stands today as the leading example of end-to-end sustainability measurement index, for any industry,” Lardeau said. “These tools have matured into comprehensive, robust offerings ready to scale and form a template for our industry’s pursuit of impact improvements. Nonetheless, they will continue to evolve, as science improves and our understanding of the industry’s challenges deepen, allowing us to support our members and the industry.”

He then shared examples of how the tools serve the industry:

  • In collaboration with the World Resources Institute, the SAC leveraged Higg FEM data from nearly 18,000 facilities, and detailed material impact data from Higg MSI, to develop the most detailed apparel industry carbon emissions inventory. This work then helped identify and quantify the key interventions that can achieve a 1.5 degree aligned climate reduction target for the industry.
  • In partnership with Reset Carbon, the SAC used the Higg tools to dig deeper into facility level analysis, showing that of the 18,000 textile facilities that engaged in Higg Facility Environment Management (FEM) assessments, around 1,500 are responsible for 80% of their combined total carbon emissions. These were identified primarily as Tier 2 and laundry facilities located in China, Bangladesh, India, and Turkey. By quantifying the impact of interventions at this cohort of facilities, the data showed that offsite renewable electricity and energy efficiency are the two biggest levers for reducing carbon emissions at scale.

Finally, Lardeau closed with a challenge: “How do we finance, enable and execute these interventions, in a way that is fair and equitable across the value chain partners?” Building on this idea, Joyce Tsoi, SAC’s Director, Collective Action Programs, APAC, moderated a panel hosted by the Clothing Industry Training Authority that featured Delman Lee, Vice Chair of TAL Apparel Ltd. and SAC Immediate Past Board Chair, Andrew Lo, CEO of Crystal International Group Ltd., and Teresa Yang, Vice Chairman of Esquel Group.

As initial framing, Tsoi shared that companies around the globe are making bold commitments to combat climate change:  A recent Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) report shows the highest number of companies set targets on record in 2022 alone than the entire seven years prior. And although an annual 4.2% emissions reduction is required for a 1.5ºC alignment for science-based targets, it was found that a typical SBTi-approved company has set even more ambitious goals, with a linear rate of 8.8% scope 1+2 reductions per year. In order to achieve these goals, Tsoi shared, companies will need to secure full organizational support for the company’s decarbonization priorities to achieve a just and equitable low carbon transition.

As all three panelists represent companies that have committed to long-term net zero goals by 2050, Tsoi asked questions that allowed them to share the pillars of their climate action programs, how they are incentivizing and empowering staff at all levels to take climate action, and how they are building collaborative ecosystems across organizations, sectors, and value chains to achieve a just and equitable low-carbon transition.

Technical Review of the Higg MSI and Higg PM Tools

  • Higg PM
  • Higg MSI
  • Higg Index Tools

We are grateful to KPMG for their work in developing this report, which captures the invaluable insights and recommendations derived from the expert review of the Higg MSI and Higg PM tools.

September 26, 2023

Evolving for Change: Learnings and Action From the Technical Review of the Higg MSI and PM Tools

  • Higg MSI
  • Higg PM
Black and white headshot of Jeremy Lardeau
Jeremy Lardeau
September 26, 2023

The SAC was founded on the idea of evolution. Through ongoing updates, our tools become more and more powerful at helping our members transform their businesses. Today, we continue to demonstrate that core concept with the publication of the first report from our Higg Index Review process, which is downloadable here. The report addresses the Higg Product Tools – the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and the Higg Product Module (PM) – and plays an important role in helping us reassess and evolve our product life cycle tools in order to best serve the industry. 

But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum: We had to listen and learn from you, our community. To do so, we engaged KPMG, which coordinated the creation of a panel of experts that represent a cross-section of the industry; KPMG led the process of generating the report, ensuring that it remained unbiased and independent. All who participated brought insightful perspectives that triggered powerful conversations about how we — the SAC, and the apparel and textile industry — can evolve the tools to drive greater impact. We were again reminded that our tools, while tailored to this industry, must respond to the global call to reduce social and environmental impacts as a whole and align with global industry standards. 

With a broad range of representation from the expert panel, we welcomed the strengths that were acknowledged, including the tools’ alignment with ISO LCA phases to quantify and assess the environmental impacts of materials and products. But more importantly, the review process surfaced clear feedback and recommendations to improve these tools. We are taking these recommendations to heart and we have started evaluating how best to address each recommendation. 

In some cases, the work is already underway. 

We are re-working the Higg MSI data structure and leveraging the forthcoming Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) update, which will launch in September, to connect them and allow factory-specific data to inform Higg MSI data sets, and which will lead to improved geographical coverage and specificity within the Higg Product Tools. We’re also actively working to improve data quality within our background datasets (secondary data), specifically in cotton fiber and textile wet processing data. Through this effort, we’re working with supply chain stakeholders to determine the type of data that is available, outline data gaps, identify intrinsic differences due to geography, and build consistent LCA models that can show improvements over time. This is a process that we’ll continue to replicate with other materials and processing stages in the future.

The expert panel also recommended that our tools must align with EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) – an evolving LCA methodology, that aims to create a harmonized common framework for calculating and communicating impact — and we fully agree. We’ve long incorporated alignment to the Apparel & Footwear PEFCR into our strategy goals and methodologies. For example: Our requirement on including renewable energy is aligned with PEF, as is our methodology to calculate the water impacts.

In other cases, we believe we can implement changes in the next phase of regular tool updates.

For example, we will develop the recommended signals and warnings, as well as offering more education and training, to help users correctly and more effectively use the tools. 

Finally, some recommendations will require a deeper process of stakeholder engagement and research to explore feasibility and practical application.

For example, the SAC is closely monitoring the progress made in ways to assess the full impacts of marine litter and microplastics in LCA data. Ultimately, the ongoing evolution of the tools means the SAC will continue to assess the recommendations over the coming months and how best to implement them in the tools’ development roadmap. 

In 2024, we will be conducting independent reviews for the Higg Brand and Retail Module (BRM) and Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) tools. Due to the timing of these updates, the Higg Product Tools were reviewed first. The remaining Higg Index Review reports will be shared in full by the SAC once they have been finalized by the review panels. 

Science isn’t static — and neither are we. We are committed to continued enhancement in order to arm the industry with the most robust, data-driven tools so that we can all stand behind decisions that are as socially responsible as they are environmentally sound. Finally, we are grateful for those who contributed their time and effort to the process of generating this report, as well as for the continued engagement of – and critical feedback from – our trusted members and partners.

SAC Releases Biannual Higg MSI Data Update

  • Higg MSI
Black and white headshot of Amina Razvi
Amina Razvi
December 18, 2020

The latest version of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) was released today by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Higg Co and represents the single largest update to production processes submitted by the industry through the MSI Contributor portal since the Higg MSI was launched by the SAC in 2012. We are adding 15 new processes that were submitted through the MSI Contributor in 2020, increasing our total count of production processes submitted directly by companies from 50 to 65. These updates, combined with processes already available, contribute to the existing millions of materials options companies can review and access in the MSI.

The Higg MSI empowers designers and developers at brands, retailers, and manufacturers to compare life cycle assessment data between comparable raw material and manufacturing processes to inform and drive more sustainable design decisions. The tool can help designers understand the environmental impacts of the choices they make when selecting different processes between relevant material types. The tool measures five environmental impacts for both natural and synthetic materials: chemistry, global warming potential, nutrient pollution in water, water scarcity, and fossil fuel depletion. All background life cycle impact assessment data in the Higg MSI comes from ISO-compliant studies and reputable industry databases, primarily the GaBi database by Sphera. Once data is submitted, it is reviewed, verified, and scored by third-party experts.

By continuing to increase the pool of data contributed and shared, companies can leverage the Higg MSI to drive transformational change across their organizations and within the industry. Since the Higg MSI data is grouped into Material Categories and Production Stages, users can easily hone in on functionally equivalent raw material and process comparisons to guide decision making. For example, when a brand is designing a cotton t-shirt, its product team can consider which type of cotton best satisfies the company’s specific sustainability goals as well as the intended purpose of the garment, making more informed decisions to create sustainable products. Similarly, designers can evaluate the impacts of different types of recycled polyester among other synthetic material options.


New Updates 

The Higg MSI is updated twice a year to reflect new and updated LCA data, new materials, and new manufacturing processes from suppliers in the footwear, apparel and textile industries. The update released today is the second update of 2020 — the previous update was in August. Today’s updates come from multiple geographies — including Asia, Europe, North America, and South America — and feature a total of more than 50 new natural and synthetic materials and processes that were submitted by industry stakeholders and sourced from leading industry databases.

In addition to the 15 new production processes submitted through the MSI Contributor portal, the latest version release of the Higg MSI now includes:

  • 8 new generic raw material process options, including 4 new example materials
  • 4 raw materials added requested by SAC footwear roundtable
  • 19 new manufacturing processes available to customize synthetic leather substrate and polyurethane (PU) amounts
  • 12 new spinning processes added to hemp raw material to accommodate a new data submission for a cottonized hemp

This update also enhances the tool’s transparency for Higg MSI users by adding direct links from data submissions to the websites of data submitters and links for documentation from background data (GaBi) when available and applicable.

Click here to view the full list of updates.


Call to Action for the Industry

Since the launch of the Higg MSI, the SAC has routinely invited and facilitated the submission of new data from various industry stakeholders. In order to drive collective action towards reducing the environmental impact of materials and increasing more sustainable material usage, the SAC invites Higg MSI users and materials experts to continue contributing material data to the tool’s growing library of materials.

In November, we began to strengthen efforts to solicit new and updated LCA data from industry partners to help ensure the best available external data inputs within the Higg MSI as part of our regular review process. We are encouraged by the ongoing conversations we’re having with industry partners, knowing that it will take all actors, working together across the value chain to transform the industry. This work continues and will be reflected in future data updates.

To learn more about how to submit data, please click here.