What’s new for fashion in the Higg Brand and Retail Module update from SAC – Sourcing Journal
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has released an updated version of its Higg Brand and Retail Module after “rigorous” consultation with members and other industry experts.
The tool, one of the five modules of the Higg Index, provides brands and retailers with an industry-specific, “holistic framework” to assess and report on supply chain ESG performance. New features include an updated scoring structure and modernized methodology, “underpinned by a due diligence approach,” SAC wrote. “The update will encourage brands and retailers to focus on real action, impact and results.”
The assessment is now broken down into 11 focus areas, falling under three pillars: environmental impacts, social impacts and governance. This will bring greater value to different organizations with different supply chain issues and allow them to focus on the most important goals, SAC said. Biodiversity has been added as a new scope that contains more in-depth questions about water and circularity. The questions themselves have also been “revised to align with best-in-class standards,” SAC said — for example, to align with best-practice guidelines on responsible purchasing practices.
The scoring methodology has been simplified to make it easier and more open to share, it said. “The Higg BRM now offers a finite score of 100, in addition to a breakdown of scores per pillar and area of impact, making it easier to understand, communicate and compare to competitors.” It aligns with relevant frameworks outside of the BRM to reduce the reporting effort.
The re-release follows a year of consultation with more than 75 stakeholders, including SAC members, the Apparel Alliance, Textile Exchange and ZDHC, who have lent their expertise to develop specialized content on materials, biodiversity, circularity and chemicals. The SAC also engaged STTI and the Common Framework of Responsible Purchasing Practice (CFRPP) Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Working Group, represented by Fair Wear, who provided insights into responsible purchasing practices.
The update represents “an important milestone for the SAC,” according to Jeremy Lardeau, Vice President of Higg Index at SAC. “This process has allowed us to better align with existing industry assessment frameworks and ensure we are considering the needs and expectations of our members and the industry at large,” he said. “Our tools must evolve to continually improve, and while this update is a step in that direction, we will continue to iterate on the BRM as the industry evolves, legislation evolves, and as we continue to gather insights and feedback from BRM stakeholders gather users and other stakeholders.”
The news comes after the SAC – along with The Industry We Want, Fair Wear and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) – released new insights showing that the apparel and footwear industry is evolving when it comes to purchasing practices and supply chain wages not developed fast enough and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “To drive the required scale of transformation, brands and retailers need a clear and standardized picture of their environmental and social hotspots to create a clear transformation roadmap,” SAC wrote.
“The release of the latest version of our Higg brand and retail module is a clear reflection of our mission at SAC to transform business for exponential impact through breakthrough tools, collaborative partnerships and trusted leadership for industry sustainability,” says Higg Brand and Retail Director at SAC Maravillas Rodriguez Zarco said.
Magnus Dorsch, Head of Corporate Sustainability at German e-commerce retailer About You, said the updated Higg BRM “will help us further calibrate our ESG strategy to ensure consistency in our progress and reporting, and moving forward look,” and enable the company to support its brand partners “in aligning towards a unified approach to sustainable practices, by helping them understand where they are in terms of their sustainability journeys and how they can continue to support them in doing so to improve and drive progress.”
Sarah Needham, director of stakeholder engagement at Textile Exchange (TE), commended SAC for delivering “key updates, including biodiversity, as a new area of impact” and for moving closer to TE’s Materials Benchmark program. “[P]Providing a resource for information on raw material intake and collaboration[ing] “Streamlining reporting across the fashion, apparel and textile industry” will help the industry meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030, she said.
“Identifying and assessing the risks and negative impacts of purchasing practices in the buyer-supplier relationship is key to mitigating negative impacts on suppliers and workers,” added Margreet Vrieling, Chair of the CFRPP Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Working Group. “By using the responsible sourcing practices, as set forth in the Common Framework, as input to the BRM Responsible Sourcing Practices Questions, the SAC underscores the importance of collaboration and convergence to drive progress in our industry.”
Another Higg Index module – the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) – came under criticism last year after the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) found that outdoor clothing manufacturer Norrøna had broken the law by selling its products marketed as eco-friendly based on MSI data. The watchdog also warned H&M that using MSI data to make sustainability claims would be considered “misleading” and a violation of Norway’s greenwashing laws. Both brands helped pilot the Higg Index transparency program, which aimed to give consumers “unprecedented visibility” into a product’s “real” impact.
https://sourcingjournal.com/sustainability/sustainability-news/sustainable-apparel-coalition-higg-brand-and-retail-module-update-greenwashing-421129/ What’s new for fashion in the Higg Brand and Retail Module update from SAC – Sourcing Journal