28 April 2020, Berlin: Mouth and nose masks from the Maisonnoee label are sewn in the fashion label's studio. The masks are currently offered in different patterns in the online shop. A charity sweatshirt is also being sold, 60 percent of the proceeds of which will be donated to associations, small businesses and needy individuals. Photo by: Jens Kalaene/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

A series of improvements and launches are in tow with the Higg Index, a value chain assessment tool developed by technology company Higg Co.

Navigating the pandemic with an eye to building out resources for its members, the company is working on rounding out its assortment of tools, starting with the Higg Product Module tool released this week.

Higg PM is a new lifecycle assessment tool focused on finished products from “cradle to factory” stages that is part of the first phase of improvements the company anticipates this year. The second edition is said to already be in development and expected to launch in early 2021, assessing remaining impact areas like distribution, product use and end of use.

For use by brands and value chain partners, the tool measures the environmental impact of finished products across impact categories like global warming, water scarcity, nutrient pollution in water, fossil fuel resource depletion and chemistry.

It is informed by the insight of 70 SAC member brands, suppliers and academic partners over nearly four years as well as the “most up to date lifecycle assessment data available to the apparel industry.” The aim is to improve transparency and communication across the value chain, while evolving to the needs of the industry.

It is said to build on sustainability work started by the European Commission in 2013 for its Product Environmental Footprint effort.

“The Footwear draft of the Product Environment Footprint Category Rules and Key Learnings and Recommendations document from the PEF effort were used as a basis to create the Higg PM methodology. Where the PEF methodology had gaps or weaknesses, the SAC worked with our global membership to advance and improve the methodology,” said Amina Razvi, executive director of Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the organization that Higg Co. spun out from last year.

Razvi continued: “The SAC is a member of the European Commission Technical Secretariat that will create the Global Apparel and Footwear PEFCR and is sharing its learnings and methodology with the secretariat. Once a final PEF methodology is approved by the EU in 2022, the SAC plans to ensure the Higg PM can be used to assess products using the approved PEF methodology.”

The tool also addresses Scope 3 category emissions related to a company’s indirect emissions, in adherence with the Greenhouse Gas protocol.

“At Aldo Group, we can use the Higg PM to collaborate with our suppliers as we look at designs and consider materials for the products we’re creating. This tool opens new digital communication avenues to our value chain partners and helps us collaborate more quickly and efficiently as we prioritize sustainability,” said Karine Kicak, senior sustainability manager at Aldo Group.

It is one of many moves at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Higg Co., which although separated, still operate in tandem to an extent.

In June, the SAC revealed a new board leaning into academia and the sciences, including Dr. Linda Greer, senior global fellow of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Abhishek Bansal, head of sustainability at Arvind Limited.

Most recently, the SAC was announced as part of a new coalition of similar groups with the aim of pooling resources to better fast-track coordinated efforts across the industry.

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