In August, SAC said it had updated its Higgs Materials Sustainability Index, which allows suppliers to share information on sustainability measurables with brands and retail partners. Now, the organization has increased the ability of suppliers to maintain facility compliance by adding functionality to its facility modules—which is available on the Higg.org website for the first time.
“We streamlined the functionality of Higg.org to offer Higg Index customers improved navigation as they complete the Higg Facility Modules,” SAC CEO Jason Kibbey said in a statement. “They can share information more easily with supply chain partners now. We hope this will encourage more of the industry to complete Higg assessments and support value chain transparency.”
Suppliers can access two facility modules online to self-evaluate supply chain transparency and performance: the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) and the Higg Facility Social & Labor Module (Higg FSLM).
The Higg FEM evaluates a factory’s energy and water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater and its environmental management overall. The Higg FSLM, meanwhile, is intended to evaluate a factory’s social and labor performance. This module will be used to assess recruitment and hiring procedures along with working hours, wages and other benefits.
The FSLM module also will be used to provide a barometer of a facility’s health and safety practices and community engagement. This data then can be used for facility benchmarks to encourage and facilitate supply chain improvements without extensive and redundant auditing through the year.
Both modules are part of the Higg Index and provide suppliers with a valid measurement of sustainable and ethical practices throughout a supply chain, which it can then pass on to buyers—and perhaps, most importantly, to consumers.
“Consumers are asking more questions about how their clothes are made. The Higg Index can provide them valuable insight,” Kibbey said. “We are working with members to develop communications for external stakeholders.”
Starting in early 2019, the Higg platform will also support the verification process for the index to allow easier communication of improvement plans and performance to the retail sector. SAC also said Higg.org will include improved analytics and benchmarking of sustainability data as part of a continued rollout of features for the site.
“When brands replace their bespoke audits by the Higg Facility Modules, factories no longer have to entertain 10 or more mostly redundant audits a year,” said Bernhard Kiehl, brand sustainability leader from SAC manufacturer member Gore-Tex. “This encourages facilities to take full ownership of their social and environmental performance and to drive year-over-year improvements of their Higg rating.”