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SAC Debuts New Version of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is empowering the apparel industry with more materials data.

The global industry coalition debuted a new version of its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI). As a cradle-to-gate material scoring tool, the Higg MSI evaluates the environmental performance of materials used in creating apparel items. The public tool enables design teams and global supply chain participants to choose more environmentally-friendly materials during garment development.

“The updated Higg MSI paves the way for deeper material transparency and awareness of environmental impacts,” Sustainable Apparel Coalition CEO Jason Kibbey said.  “It is a vital addition to the Higg Index allowing us to do brand, facility and product level assessment.”

The original Higg MSI was adopted by the SAC in 2012 and incorporated into the industry group’s Higg Index. Over the past four years, SAC has updated the datasets, methodology and technology to establish an industry-wide tool for evaluating the environmental impacts of materials used in global supply chains. Participating material manufacturers use the Higg MSI Contributor to submit production data. After submission, the data is verified by Thomas Gloria, Ph. D., the managing director of Industrial Ecology Consultants. Once the data is approved, it is graded and entered into the Higg MSI.

Unlike the original Higg MSI, the updated version furthers the apparel industry’s reach in materials data, with more information about material performance and environmental impacts.

Benefits of the updated Higg MSI include a centralized database accessible to the public, a common baseline for textile manufacturers to improve their materials, guidance to help product designers incorporate more sustainability during the product creation process, less data requests from manufacturers and a broader scope of how materials contribute to the industry’s carbon footprint.

“The new materials database/MSI represents a leap forward in standardizing the way apparel companies profile materials, sustainable or otherwise,” VF Corporation director of sustainable products and materials Barruch Ben-Zekry said. “At VF, we’ve already begun to integrate the MSI into our internal systems of product impact measurement and we will continue to advocate that others do the same.”