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.
The Higg Index
To enable systemic change, companies and organizations need a common language and platform in order to track and measure their social and environmental impacts. The Higg Index provides this language, empowering brands, retailers and manufacturers to leverage verified data in order to measure, improve and share their performance.
The methodologies of the Higg Index were developed over the course of ten years in partnership with SAC members, consultants, stakeholders, and industry experts and are continuously evolving based on the latest scientific research and data. Today, more than 21,000 organizations around the world are using the Higg Index, and its global reach and variety ensure that the SAC can now catalyze change from within the industry. Since its launch in 2011, it has become the leading environmental and social assessment in the apparel industry, which measures the whole value chain at this scale.
Together, the five tools comprising the Higg Index 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).
Over the last decade, the SAC together with its members have gathered a wealth of verified data. With this data, the industry can identify hotspots, continuously improve sustainability performance, and achieve the environmental and social transparency consumers are demanding.
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.
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 MONEY, 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
- Higg BRM Verification Program is now available for brands and retailers to support credible communication
- 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.
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