The Higg Index

The Higg Index is a suite of tools for the standardized measurement of value chain sustainability, and it is central to the SAC’s mission to transform businesses for exponential impact.

It is comprised of a core set of five tools that together assess the social and environmental performance of the value chain and the environmental impacts of products, including the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM), Higg Facility Social & Labor Module (FSLM), Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM), Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), and
Higg Product Module (PM).

Across topics such as water use, carbon emissions, and labor conditions, consumer goods brands, retailers, manufacturers, governments, NGOs, and consumers can use the Higg Index to inform their individual sustainability strategies and drive collective industry transformation. We developed the methodologies of the Higg Index over ten years using the latest scientific research, in partnership with SAC members, consultants, stakeholders,
and industry experts.

Product Tools

Facility Tools

Brand & Retail Tool

Life cycle assessment tools that give insights into environmental impacts of producing materials and products

Tools included: Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI); Higg Product Module (PM)
Purpose: To understand environmental impacts of different production choices when designing a product
Who uses them: Sustainability analysts, material and product developers
What they measure: 5 environmental impacts

Assessments that give insights into social and environmental performance of facilities

Tools included: Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM); Higg Facility Social & Labor Module (FSLM)
Purpose: To identify opportunities for continuous sustainability improvement in facilities
Who uses them: Manufacturers
What they measure: 7 environmental and 9 social management categories

An assessment that gives insights into social and environmental performance of brands and retailers

Tools included: Higg Brand and Retail Module (BRM)
Purpose: To identify opportunities for continuous sustainability improvement in company operations
Who uses them: Brands and retailers
What they measure: 11 environmental and 16 social management categories

As an SME motivated by the ticking clock of climate change, we cannot spend our time re-inventing the wheel. Thanks to the collective knowledge present in the Higg Index tools and the generosity of the SAC community, we have been able to develop a deeper understanding of our impacts and take corrective action quickly.

DUNCAN COULTER, SUSTAINABILITY MANAGER, RAPHA

Higg Index Verification

The SAC is continuously working to create comprehensive, credible, and scalable verification programs for each of the Higg index tools to improve the accuracy of the data reported. Verification improves the consistency, comparability, and credibility of Higg data. It also reduces the need for multiple, proprietary audits for facilities so that resources can be used in other areas, such as performance improvement.

To support the accurate measurement of environmental and social impacts using the Higg Index, the SAC is creating verification programs for each Higg tool. This is an essential part of the Higg framework because verified data provides companies with the trusted information they seek.

     Verification Quick Facts

  •  The Higg FEM verification program is available at scale in 100 countries
  •  Through the Social & Labor Convergence Program, Higg FSLM verification is offered in 30 countries worldwide
  • The SAC will be releasing the Higg BRM Verification Program at scale in 2021
  • Higg Product Tools (Higg MSI and Higg PM) primary data is vetted by our third party gatekeeper and secondary data is independently peer reviewed

The Value of Verification

Every year, average FEM scores consistently improve, indicating a meaningful benefit to the
industry and our planet.

Facilities that invest in year-over-year completion of the FEM, that also take the extra step of verifying their results, are proven to have the largest average score increases. This demonstrates that when facilities are consistently submitting verified FEM results, they are seeing the greatest improvements. For example, the 245 facilities that consecutively completed verification for the past three cycles show the largest score improvements, increasing scores by an average 22% every year.

While the number of verified assessments for Higg FEM increases every year, there is still room for growth. For the past two cycles, more than 20% of facilities that completed the FEM went through the process of verification. As more global facilities complete and verify the FEM and other Higg assessments, we will continue to get a clearer understanding of the industry’s environmental performance. Increased participation in verification will improve industry-wide transparency and help companies identify opportunities
for improvement and collective action.

Higg FEM Verifier & Trainer Program

Learn about our Higg FEM Verifier & Trainer Program managed by Sumerra. Apply to be a verifier or trainer.

Higg Index Transparency

Leveraging our industry-leading methodology, tools, and data, we’re excited to partner with our members and partners on a journey toward full product transparency.

In the last decade, worldwide interest in sustainability has grown, and today consumers are demanding greater accountability and transparency from brands and retailers. Transparency is one of the four core focus areas in our new strategic plan. By 2025, we’re aiming to have all SAC members participate in public-facing ratings of sustainable performance that are credible and trusted. To meet this goal, our work in 2021 and beyond will focus on developing a framework and standard for Higg Index performance publication, communication, and
marketing use available for all core Higg tools.

The Higg suite of tools offers critical insights that will help inform our overall global sustainability strategy. When implemented across the apparel and footwear industry, the tools provide a vehicle for collective action toward a future of lower impact and total supply chain transparency.

MATT HAMILTON, DIRECTOR SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS, VF CORPORATION