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Sustainable Apparel Coalition to Publish Products’ Environmental Impact Data

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The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and its technology partner Higg have launched the initial phase of a new transparency program that will publicly share environmental impact data about products, beginning with their materials content. The program provides a consistent way for brands, retailers and manufacturers to share sustainability information on apparel and footwear items across categories including water use, greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use.

SAC members H&M and Norrona already have embedded Higg Index Sustainability Profile scorecards on their U.S. and European ecommerce platforms for a number of items, and plan to add more products throughout 2021. C&A, Salomon, Tommy Hilfiger and Zalando will implement the scorecards in the coming months, and SAC members Amazon, Boozt, Calvin Klein, Columbia Sportswear, Helly Hansen, JustWears, Lenzing AG and Puma also have committed to supporting the program. Amazon has added the Higg Index Materials seal to its list of trusted certifications for its Climate Pledge Friendly program, which is designed to make it easier for U.S. and European consumers to discover and shop for more sustainable products.

At launch, the program will focus on the impact of a product’s materials, with plans to expand over the next two years to incorporate additional data, including manufacturing and corporate responsibility.

“We recognize that a significant amount of the industry’s impact takes place during the extraction and processing of raw materials,” said Sean Cady, Chair of the SAC Board of Directors and VP of Global Sustainability, Responsibility and Trade for VF Corporation in a statement. “Across the industry, an objective, robust and accurate dataset is needed to enable sustainable material choices at scale. Through the use of the Higg Index, our industry has the tools, the opportunity, and the responsibility to elevate sustainable business decisions for the betterment of people and our planet. We encourage the rest of the industry to join us as we strive to create a more sustainable future.”

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The transparency program will expand further over the next 18 months, incorporating environmental facility data through the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) as well as brand and retail operations data through the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM). By early 2023, the program will have incorporated social data from facilities, moving it closer to becoming the first holistic system for communicating sustainability performance across a product’s lifecycle.

“Change demands real performance data that indicates how well a brand, a supply chain or a material performs compared to others,” said Jason Kibbey, CEO of Higg in a statement. “With the Higg Index established as the industry’s common methodology, our technology can now provide that data out to the public in a consistent and clear way. We aim to serve both concerned shoppers as well as responsible businesses, both of whom are looking for better information to make more sustainable choices.”

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