the sac blog

Thought Leaders Weigh in on the Higg Product Module

The Higg Product Module (Higg PM) assesses the environmental impacts of a completed product. Developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and more than 70 SAC member organizations, the Higg PM offers the apparel, footwear, and textile industry in-depth data on product environmental performance. Brands, retailers, and manufacturers can use the tool’s comparable and trusted data to make improvements to the products they design and manufacture. The Higg PM measures water scarcity, chemistry, global warming potential, nutrient pollution in water (eutrophication), and fossil fuel depletion. By understanding these impacts, brands, retailers, and manufacturers can proactively design and develop products that prioritize environmental impacts. 

At the SAC, we believe that companies need to work together to truly transform the industry – no single company can address sustainability alone. We believe in collaboration, collective action, and driving continuous improvements. Using trusted life cycle assessment (LCA) data, the Higg PM offers the apparel industry a leading tool backed by science and technology that will help scale sustainability improvements globally. Click here to learn more about this new version of the Higg PM.

In this post, five industry thought leaders weigh in on the value of the Higg PM and how this measurement tool can help the industry become more sustainable.

 

Karine Kicak
Senior Sustainability Manager, ALDO Group

How can companies use the Higg PM to collaborate with their value chain partners?
The Higg Product Module offers value chain partners a great opportunity to connect with one another on sustainability performance. At ALDO Group, we can use the Higg PM to collaborate with our suppliers as we look at designs and consider materials for the products we’re creating. This tool opens new digital communication avenues to our value chain partners and helps us collaborate more quickly and efficiently as we prioritize sustainability.

 

How will the Higg PM help your business and your sustainability journey?
Sustainability is central to ALDO Group’s brand identity. In 2013, the ALDO Group began its sustainability journey by calculating its carbon footprint and setting a baseline for improvement. Since then, our company has improved the energy efficiency of its offices and stores, and invested in projects to limit emissions in its own operations. From 2013 to 2018, ALDO Group is proud to have achieved a 46% reduction of its greenhouse gases in only five years since embarking on this journey to help our planet.

The Higg PM helps us design and create products that reflect our sustainability values. We can use this and the other Higg Index tools to understand environmental impacts, as we explore how to tweak designs and consider different materials to produce more sustainable options. ALDO Group is committed to successfully offsetting its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions as well as a portion of its Scope 3 indirect emissions, in line with our approved Science-Based Targets, and the Higg PM will be instrumental in helping measure this effort. 

 

What makes you most excited about the Higg PM?
The Higg PM offers the industry an opportunity to understand its global impacts so that we can work together to make improvements. The SAC is the leading example of pre-competitive collaboration and, with the data gleaned from the Higg PM, companies can continue working together to reduce environmental impacts at a global scale. 

 

What advice would you give to companies just starting their sustainability journey as they explore the Higg PM?
I’d encourage new users to become familiar with the life cycle assessment impacts the Higg PM measures and start assessing a handful of products to learn how the tool works and then expand from there. The Higg PM offers a lot of complex, in-depth data. The SAC community is great at helping new members understand how to navigate and use the Higg Index, including the Higg PM. The SAC team and community are very welcoming and members are happy to connect with one another and support each other as new companies join the community and start exploring how to apply the tools. As SAC members, we recognize that we’re all in this effort to improve sustainability, so the more of us using the tools to their fullest potential, the better.

 

Krishna Manda
Senior Manager Sustainability Integration, Lenzing

What will the Higg PM offer the apparel, footwear, and textile industry globally?
The Higg PM provides the global apparel industry comparable environmental sustainability data about products at a scale that has never been met before. It is based on state-of-the art scientific methods, thus giving all companies a common language so that we can work together to address sustainability globally. Having the standardized data from the Higg PM will ultimately support the industry at large in developing more sustainable products due to alignment of measures and actions facilitated by this common language. In the first edition, the Higg PM will cover cradle-to-gate finished product stages and will help companies in improving product sustainability.

 

How can companies use the Higg PM to collaborate with their value chain partners?
Close partnership with our value chain is a guiding principle at Lenzing. Only by acting in partnership can we address the complex challenges of global sustainability. The Higg PM will facilitate collaboration by providing a common language for measuring and understanding a product’s environmental impacts and their main drivers. Being able to better communicate about those impacts and drivers with our value chain partners will enable us to work together towards performance improvements year after year with concrete targets and programs. Furthermore, it can guide new product innovations with better performance.

 

What makes you most excited about the Higg PM?
The Higg PM has reached a great milestone with transparent methodology, data sources, and production processes. Establishing a high level of transparency enables us to build trust with our partners while further raising sustainability standards across the industry. This provides a great foundation to scale data further as well as add new processes.

 

What’s the value of the industry aligning around common tools like the Higg PM?
The major challenges facing the industry today can only be solved when everyone works together. By using science-based data and a standardized methodology to calculate comparable product impacts, the Higg PM allows the industry to come together to better understand sustainability impacts, and develop innovative strategies to reduce them. This alignment saves resources and time and enhances our focus to make systemic improvements in the value chain.

 

David Kemp
Senior Manager, Corporate Responsibility, Brooks Running

From your perspective, what is the value of the Higg PM?
For Brooks Running, it’s critical that we protect our planet. As we create new gear, we seek to minimize our environmental impact in line with climate science, and the Higg PM delivers on that. Our product teams will use the Higg PM to better understand the environmental impacts of our products and its science-based insight will better position us to create more sustainable options for our customers. This tool will also help the industry compare the sustainability performance of different products, which is a game changer.

 

How will the Higg PM help Brooks Running’s sustainability journey?
Brooks Running is dedicated to doing what’s right for people and the planet. We’re deeply committed to sustainability and engage with the SAC very actively. We want to create the best running gear in the world while we reduce our environmental impact in line with climate science, create positive social change and be transparent about these efforts. The Higg PM aligns with these goals and supports them. The Higg PM gives us visibility into five environmental impact areas, so our teams can make more informed choices as they design products – they can use the Higg PM to choose better materials and reduce waste, two areas that are core to our sustainability strategy. 

 

How would you encourage other companies to use the Higg PM? Why is this important?
Companies new to the Higg PM can start exploring the tool and becoming familiar with how it works and the impacts it communicates. The five life cycle assessment impact areas the Higg PM assesses give companies a look at key environmental performance metrics that influence a product’s sustainability. 

 

What makes you most excited about the Higg PM?
We’re just starting to scratch the surface of the Higg PM’s possibilities. As more companies use the tool, we’ll be able to see at a global scale how different products compare to one another, which is really exciting. We will also be able integrate the Higg PM into our company systems, so designers and product developers can easily use the tool day to day and make sustainability a core part of their decision making process. If sustainability performance becomes a key consideration for every product at every company, we’ll start to see big changes in our industry.

 

Dhanujie Jayapala
Manager – Environmental Sustainability, MAS Holdings

From your perspective, what is the value of the Higg PM?
The first edition of the Higg PM provides a cradle-to-gate life cycle impact assessment for apparel products which can be completed by designers, merchandisers, sourcing teams, sustainability teams, and key decision-makers. Using the Higg PM creates convergence towards one industry standard. Most importantly, the Higg PM is a tool developed collaboratively by brands, manufacturers, and academic industry partners to achieve the best and most sustainable outcomes for the industry.

 

How can tools like the Higg PM be used to help companies achieve their SBTs?
Setting Science Based Targets (SBTs) is challenging, but most sustainability professionals in the industry will agree that the biggest challenge at the initial stage would be to focus on measuring Scope 3 GHG emissions data in a robust manner. Considering the industry dynamics, Scope 3 emissions are significant for the entire supply chain, with raw materials and finished products being the two biggest Scope 3 categories. I believe for any company that is planning to track their Scope 3 emissions, the Higg MSI and Higg PM would be the best starting point to obtain high level sources of product level, material level or yarn level emission information.

To achieve SBTs, brands and retailers will need to better understand how to redesign products to reduce impacts through materials selection, production, logistics and product use phases. As a manufacturer, we feel this will allow greater focus on continuous and collaborative innovation by using new processes and materials. This will also give manufacturers the opportunity to optimize beyond industry benchmarks and create an open dialogue with customers on reducing impact by using innovative technologies and materials.

 

Why are you using the Higg PM and how has this helped your business?
MAS uses the Higg PM because of the standardized impact measurements. This will enable direct and faster analysis and help us to identify hotspot products that need further life cycle impact analysis. With this data, we will be able to start discussions with our customers and supply chain on how we can collectively improve product criteria to mitigate climate risk and other environmental impacts.

While this is a fantastic step in the right direction, we do believe this is only the start of the Higg PM journey, and there is certainly room for continuous improvement in the accuracy of the data calculations.

 

What’s the value of the industry aligning around common tools like the Higg PM?
The Higg PM is still at the beginning of its journey, and is currently one of the best options available in measuring impact at the consolidated level. It has great potential to develop further into a robust well-rounded tool. Access to better information and data will ultimately enable product transparency and empower users to take action related to their usage and product selection. By allowing manufacturers to submit data to the tool, the Higg PM also has the potential to improve its data by customizing specific impacts. We believe that Higg PM can spark discussions and inroads to further studies on lifecycle research and impact areas, which will provide better understanding of environmental impact mitigation for the entire industry.

 

Debora Holder
CSR Manager, Sympatex

Why are you using the Higg PM and how has this helped your business?
At Sympatex, our overall target is to close the textile loop and to develop and offer circular products. The Higg PM provides us with essential information about the environmental performance of our products in order to identify key sustainability areas that are important to meet our sustainability goals, for example in terms of CO2 reduction. We can use this information to make proactive design and materials choices that align with our sustainability goals. 

 

What makes you most excited about the Higg PM?
We’re excited about how the Higg PM will equip Sympatex with data that can be used to make strategic sustainability decisions. Having actionable, cutting-edge life-cycle assessment metrics in a user-friendly format gives our team the data we need to continue developing sustainable and high-performance materials.

 

What’s the value of the industry aligning around common tools like the Higg PM?
Creating fully circular products can only be achieved when everyone in the value chain works together. When we align around common tools like the Higg PM, we set a common language and standard around sustainability for the global industry. We can use these tools to inform our work and create more sustainable products together.

The Higg PM offers a great way to show and compare LCA-results of different products – which also will be a great opportunity for a more transparent environmental comparison for customers in the future.