The Outdoor Industry Association and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition are partnering to gain broader acceptance of the Higg Index.

The groups have signed a memorandum of understanding to drive environmental and social best practices in the global apparel, textile and footwear supply chain.

The key goal of the agreement is broad adoption of and alignment around the five-year-old Higg Index as the “go-to” supply chain sustainability management tool for the companies in the industry sectors in which it applies, starting with apparel and footwear.

OIA and SAC will also work to avoid duplication of efforts among groups and serve as a model for other industries as a collaborative effort and catalyst for change. They also aim for significant progress toward a fully networked and connected supply chain, sharing environmental and social performance data, and want to achieve measurable reduction of adverse environmental and social impacts across global supply chains.

The new agreement includes specific Higg Index adoption targets set by OIA for its members, as well as a commitment from the SAC to provide OIA members with access to the Higg Index web tool through 2017 and beyond. OIA is subsidizing small to medium enterprise members’ access to the tool in 2016 as part of its campaign to boost broader adoption of the Higg Index. To date, 53 outdoor industry brands have Higg.org accounts, 43 Brand Modules are in progress or completed and 21 Brand Modules have been posted.

“The time is now for the outdoor industry to ‘lean in’ to broad adoption of the Higg Index tools, which have significant roots in our industry,” said Beth Jensen, director of sustainable business innovation for OIA. “Widespread adoption of the Higg Index will allow us as an industry to begin tracking our collective supply chain impacts, allowing individual companies to benchmark themselves against the broader industry and helping OIA and the Sustainability Working Group make informed decisions about how to prioritize industry resources toward improvement.”

Jason Kibbey, chief executive officer of SAC, said, “Outdoor Industry Association played a critical role in the collaborative building of the Higg Index and now we look forward to seeing OIA along with fellow SAC members lead on demonstrating meaningful sustainability improvement through the Higg Index.”

The OIA Higg Index Adoption Campaign was highlighted at the SAC Annual Membership Meeting held in Copenhagen in early May and will also be a focus of the sustainability meetings and events at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market taking place Aug. 1 to 6 in Salt Lake City.

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., OIA is a trade association for the outdoor industry and has more than 1,200 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members.

SAC is a group of 175 apparel, footwear and home textile brands, retailers, suppliers, affiliates, non-profit groups and academic institutions working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products via a common approach for measuring and evaluating apparel and footwear product sustainability performance.

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