Lee Jeans

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, 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 today.

The Higg MSI is a 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, director of sustainable products and materials at VF Corp., an SAC member company. “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 a centralized database accessible to the public and a common baseline for material performance against which textile manufacturers can work to improve their performance and differentiate their capabilities with their customers. It also provides information in a user-centric way that empowers product designers and developers considering sustainability during the product creation process, reduces data requests of manufacturers, and increases the spectrum of known environmental impacts against which material impacts are evaluated. This includes climate change, eutrophication, abiotic resource depletion, and water scarcity and usage.

“The updated Higg MSI paves the way for deeper material transparency and awareness of environmental impacts,” said Jason Kibbey, chief executive officer 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.

Participating material and textile manufacturers submit commonly used production data via the Higg MSI Contributor to be scored and publicly recognized in the Higg MSI. Once data is submitted, it is reviewed, verified, scored and entered into the Higg MSI.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition includes more than 180 apparel, footwear and home textile brands, retailers, suppliers, affiliates, nonprofit and nongovernmental, and academic institutions working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products around the world.

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