Evolution of Higg MSI Will Deepen and Expand Focus on Product-Level Impacts in 2021
SAN FRANCISCO — November 2, 2020 – The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the leading association representing the apparel, footwear, and textile industry in sustainability, today announced plans to accelerate the retirement of the aggregated single score from the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) by January 4, 2021.
The Higg MSI was the first product developed in the Higg Index platform, which now includes five distinct tools that collectively work to accurately track, measure, and score a company or product’s sustainability performance. The Higg MSI is a cradle-to-gate tool that assesses five environmental impacts of materials production: global warming potential, nutrient pollution in water, water scarcity, fossil fuel depletion, and chemistry. The purpose of the Higg MSI is to support apparel, footwear, and home textile designers and developers in making more sustainable material choices, leveraging independently-verified data and insights and providing insights across the range of environmental impacts associated with materials production. All background life cycle impact assessment data in the Higg MSI comes from ISO-compliant studies and commercial databases, primarily the GaBi database by Sphera. The Higg MSI is updated twice a year to reflect the best available peer-reviewed science, the most recent update was released in August 2020.
This evolution of the Higg MSI will enable SAC members and Higg Index users to expand and deepen their focus to the product level where a greater impact can be achieved and is integral to the organization’s focus on accelerated decarbonization efforts across the apparel industry value chain. The change paves the way for the second edition of the Higg Product Module (Higg PM), launching in spring of 2021, which will also include consideration of use and end-of-life.
“The SAC is driven by a commitment to collaboration and transparency, and we value stakeholder feedback to help ensure that our tools continuously evolve to meet the rapidly changing needs of our industry and reflect the most accurate peer-reviewed science. Our decision to move up the planned retirement of the MSI single score reflects not only our intended evolution of our focus from materials to the product level, but also to address some of the concerns among materials stakeholders,” said Amina Razvi, Executive Director of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
Retiring the Higg MSI aggregated single score will provide MSI users with access to the five individual impact area scores and enable companies to use those scores in ways that reflect their own priorities and material issues for their businesses. The retirement of the single score was initially planned to coincide with the upcoming launch of the second edition of the Higg Product Module (PM), and was accelerated as a result of ongoing engagement with other industry associations.
Michele Wallace, Director, Product Integrity at Cotton Incorporated said, “Eliminating the single aggregated score in the Higg MSI is a positive step. Sustainability measurement tools need to balance ease with accuracy. Although single scores are easy to grasp, they do not address the inherent complexities of impact assessment. With this change to Higg MSI and the release of the Product Module with the full lifecycle, the Higg product tools will move closer to conformity with ISO standards.”
Call to Action for the Industry
The SAC invites Higg MSI users and materials experts to contribute material data to the tool’s growing library of materials. Once data is submitted, it is reviewed, verified, and scored by third-party experts. By continuing to increase the data contributed and shared, companies can leverage it to drive transformational change across their company and within the industry.
Since the launch of the MSI, the SAC has routinely invited and facilitated the submission of new peer-reviewed materials data. To strengthen engagement with leading industry associations and help ensure the highest quality and representativeness of the Higg MSI, the SAC will be stepping up its efforts to solicit new and updated LCA data as part of its regular review process. Specifically, the SAC is working to establish member working groups to create aligned models for specific material categories, enhance the submission process for Higg MSI contributors by translating methodology documentation and guidance, and offer more frequent training workshops. We will be sharing additional details about these workshops in the coming weeks.
To learn more about how to submit data, please click here.
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About the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an industry-wide group of more than 250 leading apparel, footwear and textile, brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, nonprofits, NGOs and academic institutions working to promote social justice throughout the global value chain and reduce the environmental impacts of products. Through multi-stakeholder engagement, the SAC seeks to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built upon a common approach for measuring and evaluating apparel, footwear and textile sustainability performance that spotlights priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation. 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 the newly formed Higg Co. For more information, visit www.apparelcoalition.org.