American Eagle Outfitters and multinational retailer C&A are among the first to trial a new carbon impact reduction program.
Higg, the tech spin-off from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii) recently revealed its “Carbon Leadership Program” and tech assessment.
The tool — which provides a single carbon metric score or “potential carbon reduction score” — was a collective effort, tapping technology partners like Reset Carbon, a strategic partner to Aii.
After assessment, brands can undergo the optional program with personalized strategies, training and tools to help set and achieve their carbon targets. On a monthly basis thereafter, manufacturers voluntarily provide assessment data via the Higg platform to fine-tune improvement and benchmark progress.
“The industry has long lacked a standard and pragmatic approach for manufacturing facilities to determine and achieve their carbon reduction potential,” said Kurt Kipka, vice president of Aii. “When Reset Carbon proposed an in-depth facility questionnaire for creating curated action plans alongside the support of an engineer, we knew it was the perfect solution. Now, our brand partners can confidently nominate, and in some cases, sponsor manufacturing suppliers to help them set or confirm attainable reduction goals.”
Along with more than 20,000 active users, brand partners like American Eagle have been longtime supporters of Higg.
Michelle Tarry, senior director of responsible sourcing and sustainability at AEO, said: “We view these organizations working together as a significant step for the retail industry and more importantly for climate change. Carbon Tech Assessment provides AEO the opportunity to develop more meaningful, impactful relationships with our partners while also prioritizing the suppliers we connect with. This enables AEO to move the conversation beyond introductory topics like energy efficiency to specific remedies, such as coal phase-out and renewable energy. With this data now available on the Higg platform, AEO will be able to reach suppliers faster and implement solutions more efficiently.”
In the past, Higg was criticized for its single-metric scores, one instance being the Material Sustainability Index (MSI), which was dropped and reworked amid the pandemic.
As Scope 3 (or indirect supply chain emissions) reduction is a critical unlock to reaching industry-wide reduction pathways, collaboration and solutions among sustainability tech is becoming more pronounced.
“Offering this carbon assessment on Higg’s platform allows brands access to even more data in one place, delivering a comprehensive view of their environmental impact,” said Higg chief executive officer Jason Kibbey.