Front-running SMEs come together for industry wide transparency and sustainability improvements
(Amsterdam), October 26, 2016 – In January 2016, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) in partnership with IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative launched an ambitious pilot project to engage European small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) brands to utilize the SAC’s Higg Index. The objective of this project is to carve out a common language that can be used from the smallest to the largest brand(s) to measure their sustainability performance and accelerate impact creation. At the same time the project is investigating if this approach could be one of the answers to the European governments’ call for a scalable standardized system with a particular focus on SMEs. By taking into account the political and industry needs, SAC and supporting partners aim to proactively work with all stakeholders towards a scalable and common standard. The project has received a great deal of support by industry stakeholders, including the Association of Swedish Fashion Brands, Danish Fashion Institute, Dansk Fashion & Textile, European Outdoor Group, Modint, Outdoor Sports Valley and 27 SME brands in nine European countries.
The pilot project, which will run until December 2017, gives SME participants the unique opportunity to access the SAC’s Higg tools and training resources to (i) measure their sustainability performance at both brand and supplier level and (ii) to collaborate with their peers through the Higg platform. The user feedback from the SME participants will be valuable and critical to fuel future developments and improvements of the Higg suite of tools.
“If we want the industry to perform better, we need to start by measuring sustainability performance with a common language” says Sibbe Krol, program manager Apparel & Electronics at IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, “Systemic challenges are impossible to change alone, we recognize the crucial part that SMEs have to play in this coalition to transform our industry. With the SME project, it is good to see that front-running SMEs are leading the way in creating a sustainable industry with participation from all stakeholders, complemented with the use of the Higg index suite of tools.”
‘This project is an important opportunity to gauge what kind of support SMEs, and our members specifically, will need going forward in order to work with the Higg Index as it slowly becomes one of the most recognized tools in the industry. We are therefore very happy that a significant fraction of the project participants stems from the outdoor industry. We are looking forward to keep working with these companies as well as the SAC not only over the next 18 months, but also after the project has come to its scheduled end.’
Dr. Pamela Ravasio, Head of CSR & Sustainability, European Outdoor Group.
Maintaining sustainable practices for smaller companies may seem straightforward, but according to Elin Larsson, Sustainability Director at pilot participant Filippa K, “there are many challenges in being part of the textile industry, an industry with long and complex supply chains and one that leaves significant environmental and social footprints.” As an early participant in SME access to the Higg Index, Flilippa K intends to achieve greater empowerment in decision-making by achieving greater transparency throughout their textile processes. “Together with the rest of the industry we want to challenge that and show the way to more sustainable fashion. We hope that the Higg Index will be one of the tools to help us get there”.
SME brands and retailers do not need to wait for the conclusion of the project, in December 2017, to utilize the Higg Index, instead they may do so immediately by becoming an SAC member or through the recently launched SME Higg Access model (August 3, 2016 Press Release). Interested companies are encouraged to contact the Sustainable Apparel Coalition at https://apparelcoalition.org/join-us/.
About the Higg Index
The key tool developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is The Higg Index. The Higg Index is a suite of ground-breaking assessment tools that empower brands, retailers, and manufacturers to measure their environmental as well as social and labor impacts at every stage of the lifecycle and value chain, and then share those measurements in a credible way through verification and pave the way for industry transparency. The Higg Index suite of tools is created by the industry, for the industry. By measuring sustainability performance, the industry can address inefficiencies, resolve damaging practices, and achieve the environmental and social transparency that consumers are starting to demand.
About the Sustainable Apparel Coalition
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is an industry-wide group of over 180 leading apparel, footwear and home textile, brands, retailers, suppliers, affiliates (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 Coalition seeks to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built upon a common approach for measuring and evaluating apparel, footwear and home textile product sustainability performance that spotlights priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition was incorporated as a 501c(6) nonprofit organization and launched the groundbreaking Higg Index suite of tools in 2011. For more information, visit apparelcoalition.org.
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