The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has updated its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI), introducing a feature that allows suppliers to share sustainability performance information with brands and retailers.
The SAC, founded by Walmart and Patagonia, said this upstream communication will promote greater transparency and improved sustainability performance within the industry. The Higg MSI allows the apparel, footwear and textile industries to assess the environmental impact of materials used in global manufacturing.
The Higg MSI precisely measures and scores a material’s environmental impact. It now features 80 base materials, including cotton, polyester and silk. When blended, these account for the majority of all materials the industry currently uses.
“With the opportunity to play a key role in determining a product’s sustainability performance, being a designer today is really exciting,” SAC CEO Jason Kibbey said. “With the Higg MSI, product designers can access an incredible amount of information, and then use it to significantly reduce environmental impacts of materials production.”
Now one of the six tools comprising the Higg Index, the Higg MSI is considered one of the leading material assessment tools for the industry. Higg MSI calculations can account for energy, water, chemistry and additional impacts used in material production.
For the apparel, footwear and textile industries, the tool is expected to help companies design products that will attract and retain key consumers who increasingly demand knowledge of greater transparency in how their clothes and shoes are made. What’s more, they’ll be able to lessen the environmental impact of their supply chains.
“Across VF Corporation and our brands, we integrate material sustainability metrics into design decisions,” Sean Cady, vice president for global responsible sourcing at VF, said. “The Higg MSI provides an objective, comparable metric, which informs our material choices and allows us to meet consumer expectation and brand promises.”
The SAC’s global members have demonstrated the apparel, footwear, and textile industries already trusts the science-backed data the Higg MSI offers. Kibbey said, “Other industries have approached us about how they could use the Higg MSI, making us realize there is an opportunity to expand the tool’s application in the coming months. The SAC is currently exploring access models for the Higg MSI for organizations outside the apparel, footwear, and textile sector to benefit from the tool.”
Higg MSI users are encouraged to contribute material data to the tool’s growing library of materials. Once data is submitted, third-party experts review it, verify it and scored it.