After a four-year hiatus, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition returned to hosting in-person Manufacturer Forums with the “Catalyst for Change” event in Shenzhen, China. SAC Manufacturer Forums are a series of action-oriented events aimed at bringing together business leaders and stakeholders for solution-centered discussion on how to drive sustainability improvements throughout global supply chains.
The event gathered 180 participants at the Sheraton Shenzhen Futian Hotel for sessions on policy, supply chain dynamics, decarbonization, standardizing facility data collection, verification, and more. Attendees learned about how the SAC and its member organizations collectively work together to drive improvements in the apparel, footwear, and textile industry.
Sing Bin Lim, Head of Hub Asia at bluesign technologies, kicked off the event with a keynote that emphasized the need to address climate change at the country level — as well as the challenges faced by facility owners and even individuals who are unsure how to tackle such a vast objective. Lim highlighted solutions found through increased knowledge and collaboration — both upstream with financial institutions and downstream with customers — which is demonstrated by SAC’s collaboration with the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii), Textile Exchange, and ZDHC on the Apparel Alliance, as well as the SAC’s ongoing partnership with Worldly, which helps brands report on essential data, including carbon emissions, through use of the SAC Higg tools.
The critical need for data was echoed by the SAC’s Angela Ng, Director of Higg Facility Tools, who introduced the Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP)’s new WE Tech worker engagement program. Ng highlighted the difference between the SLCP’s Converged Assessment Framework (CAF) and the Higg Facilities Environmental Module (FEM) and how scoring is applied to make the industry fair together. SAC’s Betty Li, Senior Manager of Membership Engagement for Asia-Pacific (APAC), honed in on how increased scrutiny and regulation allow companies to analyze data and show progress year over year.
Moran Zhang, a Research Analyst at the World Resources Institute’s China Climate and Energy Program, detailed the relevant policies that will impact manufacturers, including the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan and the Green Deal, and introduced the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) as a tool that can be used to track emissions. Zhang shared information from the “Roadmap to Net Zero: Delivering Science-Based Targets in the Apparel Sector” report [https://www.wri.org/research/roadmap-net-zero-delivering-science-based-targets-apparel-sector] that was published in 2021 by WRI and the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii), a SAC partner.
Jessica Jia, the SLCP representative in China, shared how the program is actively expanding to more industries such as accessories, furniture, and home decor. With 4.7k users and over 400 verifiers, China is the SLCP’s biggest user base by far. Jia shared information on the CAF 1.6, emphasizing how the updates have simplified the steps and optimized the data.
Attendees were also briefed on updates to the Higg Index suite of tools, including FEM 4.0, scheduled to launch later this year, and the SAC’s new Decarbonization Program. Discussions emphasized how important brands are to drive tools adoption.
“We were honored to have hosted industry stakeholders at our Manufacturer Forum,” said Jeremy Lardeau, Vice President, Higg Index. “As an organization committed to transforming business through groundbreaking tools and collaborative partnerships, we believe through initiatives such as the Manufacturer Forums, we can help solve the industry’s most urgent and systemic challenges.”
The SAC’s next Manufacturer Forum will take place this December 4 in Bangalore, India. Click here for more information and to save the date!