Apparel Sector Gets New Higg Materials Index

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The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a global industry coalition that is standardizing social and environmental sustainability performance measurement, launched a new and improved version of its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) early November 2016.
The Higg MSI is a ground-breaking cradle-to-gate material scoring tool that measures and communicates the environmental performance of thousands of materials used in creating apparel, footwear and home textile products.

The publicly available tool allows design teams and global supply chain participants to select more sustainable materials during product design and development.

“The new materials database/MSI represents a leap forward in standardizing the way apparel companies profile materials, sustainable or otherwise,” said Barruch Ben-Zekry, VF Corporation’s Director of Sustainable Products and Materials. “This provides the type of certainty in interpretation that will help guide our industry toward better materials choices. 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.”

The benefits of the updated Higg MSI include:

  • Contributing to the world’s knowledge about materials and their impacts through a centralized database accessible to the public
  • Creating a common baseline for material performance against which textile manufacturers can work to improve their performance and differentiate their capabilities with their customers
  • Providing information in a user-centric way that empowers product designers and developers to iterate on designs while considering sustainability during the product creation process
  • Reducing data requests of manufacturers, thus saving time and money
  • Growing the spectrum of known environmental impacts against which material impacts are evaluated including climate change, eutrophication, abiotic resource depletion (fossil fuels), water scarcity and usage, and chemistry

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

The original version of the Higg MSI was developed by Nike and later adopted by the SAC in 2012 and incorporated into the SAC’s Higg Index. Since then, SAC has updated the methodology, technology, and datasets to create an unparalleled tool for evaluating the environmental impacts produced by materials from extraction through manufacturing.

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