The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has launched the Materials Sustainability Index Contributor, a new addition to the Higg Index suite of tools that allows material suppliers and experts to submit apparel, footwear and home textile material data into the Higg MSI.

The MSI Contributor will allow SAC to expand data around materials sustainability to inform design, development and sourcing decisions for its more than 180 members, including designers and developers at some of the world’s top brands.

The Higg MSI provides a yardstick for assessing materials impact on climate change, land use, water scarcity, resource depletion, eutrophication and chemistry.

“Sustainability measurement can only be achieved when the industry is speaking a common language,” said Jason Kibbey, chief executive officer of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. “With the introduction of the MSI Contributor, we further the depth of that language, providing a baseline for thousands of materials that designers and the rest of the industry can use to make informed product decisions. This is a key milestone in our roadmap to full industry transparency via the Higg Index in 2020.”

Once validated by the MSI Gatekeeper, the MSI Contributor submissions will be incorporated into the Higg MSI, a public tool relaunching in September that will allow users to see and compare scores for common materials in the apparel, footwear and home textile industries.

At launch, the Higg MSI will include 79 scored base materials such as cotton and polyester, and 225 additional production specifications, including organic or bio-based fibers, weaving and knitting processes, and performance finishes that can be used to get a more accurate score for a specific material. This results in more than 4,000 scored materials, which SAC hopes to expand with the MSI Contributor.

“As a participating member of the SAC, Invista has been keen to ensure that the methodology used to assess material and product impacts is fair, unbiased and representative of actual environmental impacts associated with manufacture and consumer use of textile products,” said Francis Mason, senior research and development engineer of fiber giant Invista. “This fundamental tool improvement will enhance the SAC reputation and Higg Tool adoption.”

Krishna Manda, senior adviser of sustainability at Lenzing AG, said, “MSI Contributor will increase the functionality of the Higg Design & Development Module and supports brands in making meaningful decisions while designing products. This is a great platform to showcase the best sustainability practices of manufacturers which are duly verified by credible experts.”

The MSI Contributor marks another step in the evolution of Higg tools that promote data transparency, collaboration and systemic change across the industry. Soon, manufacturers and their brand and retailer customers will also be able to measure the overall environmental performance of their footwear, apparel and home textile products with the upcoming launch of the Design & Development Module in the fall.