Updated Materials Sustainability Index Empowers Apparel, Footwear and Home Textile Industries with Environmental Data on Thousands of Material Types
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a global industry coalition that is standardizing social and environmental sustainability performance measurement, today launched a new and improved version of its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI). The Higg MSI is a ground-breaking 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, VF Corporation’s Director of Sustainable Products and Materials. “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:
- Contributing to the world’s knowledge about materials and their impacts through a centralized database accessible to the public
- Creating a common baseline for material performance against which textile manufacturers can work to improve their performance and differentiate their capabilities with their customers
- Providing information in a user-centric way that empowers product designers and developers to iterate on designs while considering sustainability during the product creation process
- Reducing data requests of manufacturers, thus saving time and money
- Growing the spectrum of known environmental impacts against which material impacts are evaluated including climate change, eutrophication, abiotic resource depletion (fossil fuels), water scarcity and usage, and chemistry
“The updated Higg MSI paves the way for deeper material transparency and awareness of environmental impacts,” said Jason Kibbey, CEO of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. “It is a vital addition to the Higg Index allowing us to do brand, facility, and product level assessment.”
How It Works
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 to 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 and verified by Thomas Gloria, Ph.D., Managing Director of Industrial Ecology Consultants, a leading material expert. Once data is approved it is scored and entered into the Higg MSI according to a specific and robust scoring methodology. Dr. Gloria was also part of a team of LCA experts and industry leaders that determined the scoring methodology, and believes that “the Higg MSI is an unprecedented industry-wide collaborative effort to apply leading science-based approaches to support sustainable design decisions.” To learn more about how impacts are calculated and the process and costs for submitting data, please visithttp://msicontributor.higg.org.
*This story first appeared on Apparel Coalition
New platform allows industry to contribute and gain information on thousands of new materials in the Higg Index
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has launched the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) 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 most influential brands.
The Higg MSI provides a common lens 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,” saidJason Kibbey, CEO 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,” he said. “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 industry. At launch, the Higg MSI will include 79 scored base materials (such as cotton, polyester, and EVA foam), and 225 additional production specifications (such as organic or bio-based fibers, weaving or knitting processes, or performance finishes) that can be used to get a more accurate score for a specific material. This results in more than 4000 scored materials, which SAC looks to rapidly expand with the MSI Contributor.
Through the MSI Contributor, the SAC expects that the entire industry will gain benefits in making more informed decisions around material use. Manufacturers will have a credible and comparable means to show how their responsible production processes reduce impact, allowing them to attract more brands committed to responsible sourcing.
“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 R&D Engineer of INVISTA. “This fundamental tool improvement will enhance the SAC reputation and Higg Tool adoption.”
According to Dr. Krishna Manda, Senior Advisor of Sustainability, Lenzing AG, “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 (DDM) in the Fall.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition welcomes industry review and contributions to the MSI Contributor at msicontributor.higg.org