2018 Higg Facility Modules Streamlined for Supply Chain Transparency

– Sustainable Apparel Coalition introduces the industry’s first standardized self-assessment for measuring factories’ social and labor performance –


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. November 12, 2018 –Today the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the leading association for the apparel, footwear, and textile industry, released the 2018 Higg Facility Modules on Higg.org. The Higg Facility Modules are part of the Higg Index, a suite of sustainability assessment tools to address value chain inefficiencies, resolve damaging practices, and achieve the environmental and social transparency consumers are demanding.

Factories can use the updated Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) and the Higg Facility Social & Labor Module (Higg FSLM), which is accessible online for the first time, to evaluate value chain sustainability performance. “We streamlined the functionality of Higg.org to offer Higg Index customers improved navigation as they complete the Higg Facility Modules,” SAC CEO Jason Kibbey said. “They can share information more easily with supply chain partners now. We hope this will encourage more of the industry to complete Higg assessments and support value chain transparency.”

The Higg FEM assessment measures factories’ environmental management systems, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, water use, wastewater, emissions to air, waste management, and chemical use and management. The new web-based Higg FSLM introduces the industry’s first standardized self-assessment for measuring factories’ social and labor performance.

Informed by the Social and Labor Convergence Project, the SAC developed the Higg FSLM to evaluate recruitment and hiring practices, working hours, wages and benefits, employee health and safety, and community engagement, among other areas. The SAC is working toward accreditation as a host of the converged assessment and will release a scored version of Higg FSLM at the end of 2019.

Upcoming features of Higg.org include improved analytics and benchmarking of sustainability data. Factories can review scores within the platform and compare their own results to those of industry peers. Higg Index customers can also use the data from the assessments to identify near and long-term performance improvement opportunities. In early 2019, the platform will support Higg Index verification, which is helpful for facilities that want to share verified scores with business partners. The verification functionality enables factories, brands, and retailers to better communicate and collaborate to identify actionable improvement opportunities and develop performance improvement plans.

Historical data indicates that factories that use the Higg Index annually improve sustainability performance. The self-assessments empower manufacturers to advance the industry from one of compliance-based audits to one of self-reliant sustainability management, which alleviates the top-down tensions of traditional industry audits.

“The Higg Index is a holistic tool that helps in goal setting and measurement. Higg FEM helped us in eliminating the Sustainable Chemicals Management audit for chemical management. It imparts transparency to the value chain,” Sameer Bhand, VP – Sales, Strategy, & Sustainability, from SAC manufacturer member Pratibha Syntex Limited, said.

“When brands replace their bespoke audits by the Higg Facility Modules, factories no longer have to entertain 10 or more mostly redundant audits a year,” Bernhard Kiehl, brand sustainability leader from SAC manufacturer member GORE-TEX, said. “This encourages facilities to take full ownership of their social and environmental performance and to drive year over year improvements of their Higg rating.”

The Higg Index encourages a transparent value chain with improved communication among business partners. Brands also recognize the benefit of equal partnership the self-assessments promote.

“Speaking the same language has changed the way we work with our partners,” Abel Navarrete, VP Corporate Responsibility, from SAC brand member Columbia Sportswear Company, said. “We have seen an increase in dialogue, both with our manufacturing partners as well as with brand and retailer partners, since large-scale adoption of the Higg Facility Tools that has led to more impactful performance improvement and investments.”

SAC retailer member ASOS finds the Higg Index beneficial to its sustainability efforts. “The Higg Index has formed a cornerstone of the ASOS sustainability strategy by providing an efficient way to share environmental data within all levels of the supply chain,” ASOS said. “Reporting fatigue is reduced, making it easier than ever to achieve vital transparency, while the standardized reporting format gives all stakeholders the freedom to implement the learnings as they wish.”

SAC brand member H&M Group is encouraged by the collaborative commitments the Higg Index has inspired throughout the industry. “We were the first brand to roll out Higg FEM at 100 percent of our tier 1 and strategic tier 2 suppliers,” Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability H&M Group, said. “Now we look forward to more brands committing to roll out the Higg tools full-scale. Only then can we together achieve comparability across the industry, which in turn is key to empower informed choices through transparency.”

The SAC also aims to support the growing consumer interest in socially and environmentally conscientious brands. “Consumers are asking more questions about how their clothes are made. The Higg Index can provide them valuable insight,” Kibbey said. “We are working with members to develop communications for external stakeholders.” Currently, the Coalition is testing Higg Index performance communications. It will introduce consumer-facing Higg Index information in 2020.

Factories can register to use the Higg Facility Modules at Higg.org. Higg.org is currently available in English. It will be available in Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese in early 2019. Visit  https://apparelcoalition.org/higg-facility-tools/ to learn more about the Higg Facility Tools.

About the Sustainable Apparel Coalition

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an industry-wide group of more than 200 leading apparel, footwear, and textile, brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, nonprofits/NGOs, and academic institutions working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products around the world. Through multi-stakeholder engagement, the SAC seeks to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built upon a common approach for measuring and evaluating apparel, footwear, and textile product sustainability performance that spotlights priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation. The SAC was incorporated as a 501c(6) nonprofit organization and launched the groundbreaking Higg Index suite of tools in 2011. For more information, visit www.apparelcoalition.org. Media contact: Alexandra Rosas | press@apparelcoalition.org


Media contact:

Alexandra Rosas

Sustainable Apparel Coalition