The latest version of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) was released today by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Higg Co and represents the single largest update to production processes submitted by the industry through the MSI Contributor portal since the Higg MSI was launched by the SAC in 2012. We are adding 15 new processes that were submitted through the MSI Contributor in 2020, increasing our total count of production processes submitted directly by companies from 50 to 65. These updates, combined with processes already available, contribute to the existing millions of materials options companies can review and access in the MSI.
The Higg MSI empowers designers and developers at brands, retailers, and manufacturers to compare life cycle assessment data between comparable raw material and manufacturing processes to inform and drive more sustainable design decisions. The tool can help designers understand the environmental impacts of the choices they make when selecting different processes between relevant material types. The tool measures five environmental impacts for both natural and synthetic materials: chemistry, global warming potential, nutrient pollution in water, water scarcity, and fossil fuel depletion. All background life cycle impact assessment data in the Higg MSI comes from ISO-compliant studies and reputable industry databases, primarily the GaBi database by Sphera. Once data is submitted, it is reviewed, verified, and scored by third-party experts.
By continuing to increase the pool of data contributed and shared, companies can leverage the Higg MSI to drive transformational change across their organizations and within the industry. Since the Higg MSI data is grouped into Material Categories and Production Stages, users can easily hone in on functionally equivalent raw material and process comparisons to guide decision making. For example, when a brand is designing a cotton t-shirt, its product team can consider which type of cotton best satisfies the company’s specific sustainability goals as well as the intended purpose of the garment, making more informed decisions to create sustainable products. Similarly, designers can evaluate the impacts of different types of recycled polyester among other synthetic material options.
The Higg MSI is updated twice a year to reflect new and updated LCA data, new materials, and new manufacturing processes from suppliers in the footwear, apparel and textile industries. The update released today is the second update of 2020 — the previous update was in August. Today’s updates come from multiple geographies — including Asia, Europe, North America, and South America — and feature a total of more than 50 new natural and synthetic materials and processes that were submitted by industry stakeholders and sourced from leading industry databases.
In addition to the 15 new production processes submitted through the MSI Contributor portal, the latest version release of the Higg MSI now includes:
- 8 new generic raw material process options, including 4 new example materials
- 4 raw materials added requested by SAC footwear roundtable
- 19 new manufacturing processes available to customize synthetic leather substrate and polyurethane (PU) amounts
- 12 new spinning processes added to hemp raw material to accommodate a new data submission for a cottonized hemp
This update also enhances the tool’s transparency for Higg MSI users by adding direct links from data submissions to the websites of data submitters and links for documentation from background data (GaBi) when available and applicable.
Click here to view the full list of updates.
Call to Action for the Industry
Since the launch of the Higg MSI, the SAC has routinely invited and facilitated the submission of new data from various industry stakeholders. In order to drive collective action towards reducing the environmental impact of materials and increasing more sustainable material usage, the SAC invites Higg MSI users and materials experts to continue contributing material data to the tool’s growing library of materials.
In November, we began to strengthen efforts to solicit new and updated LCA data from industry partners to help ensure the best available external data inputs within the Higg MSI as part of our regular review process. We are encouraged by the ongoing conversations we’re having with industry partners, knowing that it will take all actors, working together across the value chain to transform the industry. This work continues and will be reflected in future data updates.
To learn more about how to submit data, please click here.