the sac blog

How Brands and Manufacturers are Using the Higg Facility Tools to Reach Their Ambitious Sustainability Goals (Part 1)

July 6, 2021


This month, we kicked off our Higg Index Facility Tools Summit, featuring leading voices in the industry. Below, you’ll get snippets of summit highlights from the Asia-Pacific region, and get a glimpse as to how brands such as H&M, VF Corporation, C&A, and manufacturers like TAL Apparel, and RT Knits are using the Higg Facility Tools in their companies to meet their sustainability goals and ambitious, science-based targets. 

As the first of the two-part series, read on to get inspired on how the Higg Facility Tools can help you improve performance for the facilities in your value chain.


Speakers include: 

  • Joyce Tsoi, Senior Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability, VF Corp
  • Sharif Hoque, Sustainabiltiy Program Manager, H&M Group
  • Adam Brennan, Unit Leader – Supply Chain Environmental Stewardship, Global Sustainability C&A
  • Matthew Guenther, Director Environmental Sustainability, TAL
  • Kendall Tang, CEO, RT Knits
  • Alagesan Senniappan, SVP of Quality, CSR and Sustainable Textiles, Eastman Exports Global Clothing
  • Bernard Kwok, Managing Director, Youngone
  • Lyn Ip, Global Head of Supply Chain Sustainability, REI
  • Ninh Trinh, Director, Responsible Sourcing & Sustainability, Target 


Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) Panel

VF Corporation is a purpose-led, performance-driven, value-creating company. Higg FEM is  definitely an essential part of what we do and how we measure our environmental impact globally. We apply the FEM facility module across our Tier 1 to Tier 3 suppliers currently. Most of the suppliers are on the Higg platform. We also have a target to educate our suppliers- transparency is a priority for us- so we encourage our suppliers to show how they are performing on environmental sustainability. After we measure how much we are doing (on water usage, energy efficiency, etc.) we then have the information we need to drive impact [and take action]. – Joyce Tsoi, VF Corporation 


We’re committed to being climate positive by 2040, and this is supported by our two reduction targets: reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Scope 1 and 2 by 40% by 2030 from a 2017 baseline , and secondly, we want to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions by 20% by 2030 in absolute terms. These commitments keep us to depend on the Higg FEM to measure our business partner performance, because it’s how we collect and assess data for climate. FEM is essential for us in getting these details [to track progress].– Sharif Hoque, H&M


24 months ago, C&A still had its own proprietary chemical and environmental audit tool. We recognize the value that Higg FEM provides, and also the limitations of rolling out and deploying a proprietary and brand specific audit. Since then, we now have hundreds of facilities adopting FEM on an annual basis. This allows us to understand how we can align our commitment to that of the FEM, and ensure that we’re not only meeting our own objectives, but also that of the industry’s. – Adam Brennan, C&A


TAL has been using the HIgg Index since 2011, so we have had an evolution of our journey. Today, there is an increased need for communication and transparency. Our strategy going forward is to support our clients in communicating the impact of their products. We want to have the necessary data, and we have our supply chain set up to use the Higg Index, so we have a link-by-link chain to be able to discuss our environmental performance, as well as provide transparency to the consumers who are demanding it. – Matthew Guenther, TAL Apparel


Mauritius is a small island, so we are likely to be most affected by the effects of climate change — this is why reducing our carbon footprint is high on our agenda. We are the first textile company in Africa to have committed to science-based targets, and we are committed to being climate neutral through the supply chain by 2050. We cannot manage what we can’t measure…to assess, verify, and improve, we use the Higg Index and Higg FEM module to help us improve our performance. [The FEM] also helps us identify areas that we were not addressing initially. Thanks to the FEM, we can also track our progress, and indirectly, it helped us better structure our environmental management team and the actions we were carrying.

We use the Higg MSI to evaluate all the raw materials we are using. With this, our product development team can make better decisions on the type of yarn or fiber we can use that has lower impact. – Kendall Tang, RT Knits


Higg Facility Social and Labor Module (FSLM) Panel

I find that this tool covers most of the ethical and compliance requirements of the clients we work with. We’ve been using this in our facilities, to do our self-assessments. Now that the new version of the Higg FSLM has come in, it is now simpler and user-friendly. Anytime new clients come in, we tell them how it works and how it can be mutually useful, especially for clients that require third-party verification. As a manufacturer, we present that we are a member of the SAC, and that we’ve been employing the Higg Facility Tools modules [so they can trust the data]. Especially during COVID, this has been a very useful tool, considering that we cannot bring third-party verifiers physically into our facilities.*  

Alagesan Senniappan, Eastman Exports Global Clothing

*Virtual / offsite verification by third parties is possible for both Higg FEM and FSLM. Due to travel restrictions, off-site verifications have helped facilities continue with their verification goals for the year.


As a manufacturer, from day one, we see the benefits of this tool. We are 100% backing it because we want to use a common tool in the industry that is adopted by multiple customers- for us, that is a very good equation. We are aggressively approaching clients to encourage them to use [the SLCP verified data]. – Bernard Kwok, Youngone


[The Higg FSLM/SLCP] is an industry tool, not a brand-proprietary tool, and we’re here to make it win for all of us. But the only way to do it is as a partner, by putting everyone on an equal playing field, and asking how we can help each other in order to set this tool up for widespread adoption across the sector. This is not my tool, it’s OUR tool. – Lyn Ip, REI


Everyone has a role to play. I firmly believe that manufacturers as well as brands have a role to play to start talking about how we are driving the impact of these tools. I want to talk about manufacturers holding brands accountable- saying, ‘You’re part of the SAC, you are committed to SLCP adoption. How can we make sure we drive that forward, and trust this tool?’ Brands, if you’re wondering why this is so difficult, I would encourage you to be part of this. We can all be very critical of something we haven’t used, but be part of the conversation. That’s the key to moving this forward. – Ninh Trinh, Target 


To learn more about the Higg Facility Tools and how it can help you manage, measure, and improve sustainability performance in your facilities, see here.