Completed Product Module Marks a Major Milestone for the Higg Index, Delivering a Comprehensive Tool for the Consumer Goods Industry to Assess Sustainability

Close up photo of clothing hanging on a rack
June 15, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO – June 15, 2021 – The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), along with its technology partner Higg, announced the completion of a new tool that evaluates the comprehensive environmental impact of products. Brands and manufacturers can use the Higg Product Module (PM) to develop apparel, footwear, and other consumer goods products with lower sustainability impacts, from reduced water use to lower carbon emissions throughout the value chain. Companies can also use the new tool to credibly communicate their performance, demonstrate progress towards sustainability and circularity goals, and address anticipated regulation.

The Higg PM is one of five tools in the Higg Index suite of tools developed by the SAC for the standardized measurement of value chain sustainability. There are two product-specific tools in the suite: the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and the Higg PM. While the Higg MSI assesses cradle to gate, the Higg PM will expand to measure cradle to grave impacts, including end-of-life, providing designers, developers, and sustainability experts directional guidance on how to improve the environmental footprint of a product they’re designing.

“We are moving beyond a ‘materials-only’ view of product impact. Now that the Higg Product Module is complete, the tool will consider design, manufacturing, packaging, logistics, excess production, product durability, care, and end of use, delivering a full view of a product’s comprehensive environmental impacts,” explains Jeremy Lardeau, VP of Higg Index for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

 

 

More than 150 companies have already used the Higg PM to assess over 1,000 products. With this launch, the full Higg Index suite of tools is complete, which is central to the SAC’s mission to transform businesses for exponential impact. As companies commit to science-based corporate sustainability goals, the Higg PM will help them understand their holistic sustainability performance and enable progress towards circularity goals.

“PEARL iZUMi couldn’t be more pleased with the tools and data provided from the Higg Index,” says Aaron Kutzer, Senior Manager, Retail Division, Pearl iZUMi. “The Higg Product Module and the detailed data it delivers inspired our new Pedal to Zero program which allows our customers to do what they love — ride bikes for fun, fitness, transportation and arguably, sanity — and now, also to purposefully offset the environmental impacts of the products they use. By scaling the Higg PM, we can achieve our evolving corporate responsibility goals and even enlist our customers to help do the same.”

As corporate sustainability goals evolve, consumers and regulatory bodies expect the consumer goods industry to become more transparent. Brands need credible data that paints a full picture of their impact from the products they design to how those products are made. The product tool was developed with these expectations in mind and can help companies prepare for anticipated legislation. For organizations with an EU presence, the Higg product tool is designed to evolve and aims to align with future EU PEF Apparel & Footwear Methodology.

“The Product Module is a game changer for member companies and the industry at large. It gives the industry a  credible tool to assess cradle-to-grave impacts of products, supporting ambitious sustainability goals and preparing users to fulfill future regulatory requirements. It also marks an important milestone for the SAC, completion of the Higg Index, and opens a new chapter in our sustainability journey towards collective action and industry transformation,” says Amina Razvi, Executive Director of the SAC.

In response to increasing expectations, companies continue to step up climate change commitments and initiatives and need tools to accurately and credibly report on their progress. Many focus on reducing carbon emissions as a starting point, in line with global efforts such as the Paris Agreement or the Science Based Targets Initiative. Brands can use the new Higg PM to assess their supply chain Scope 3 category emissions from purchased goods and services as well as the impacts from the use of sold products and the end-of-life treatment of sold products, for a comprehensive carbon footprint assessment that can be scaled across its products.

“For any company planning to track their Scope 3 emissions, Higg MSI and Higg PM would be the best starting point to obtain high-level sources of product level, material level or yarn level emission information. The new Higg PM, now equipped with the cradle to gate data, allows companies to estimate the downstream product use level impacts. MAS uses the Higg PM because of the standardized impact measurements. Standardisation will enable direct and faster analysis and help to identify hotspots in products that need further Life Cycle Impact Analysis. With this data, we have started discussions with our customers and supply chain on how to collectively improve product criteria to mitigate climate risk and other environmental impacts. These discussions have enabled us to develop relationships with customers who seek solutions to improve the environmental performance of their product portfolio,” says Dhanujie Jayapala, Environmental Sustainability Manager for MAS Holdings.

Following today’s announcement, consumer goods industries can move beyond simply measuring disparate environmental impacts of products, an important step towards meaningful consumer-facing sustainability claims, another area the SAC is focused on in partnership with Higg, as revealed by the rollout of Sustainability Profiles scorecards last month.

“We are seeing a dramatic rise in conscious consumerism and ESG investing, paired with expanding supply chain regulation. The SAC launched the first phase of our transparency program in May 2021 to help provide shoppers with unprecedented visibility into a product’s impact on the planet and its people. With the Product Module complete, we are one step closer to transforming the industry by helping companies develop more sustainable products, prepare for future regulations, and communicate their performance credibly to consumers to help them make more informed decisions,” says Amina Razvi.

 

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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. Leveraging the Higg Index suite of tools for the standardized measurement of value chain sustainability, the SAC is working to transform business for exponential impact.

The SAC was incorporated as a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization and launched the groundbreaking Higg Index suite of tools in 2011. In May 2019, the SAC spun-off the Higg Index technology platform to Higg, which delivers tools and services that help consumer goods businesses accelerate transformation for a more sustainable future. For more information, visit www.apparelcoalition.org.

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