Overview

The Higg Index 1.0 was released on June 26, 2012 and has been used by hundreds of organizations, both SAC Members and others.  The Higg Index 2.0 was released on December 11, 2013 and represents a significant step forward based on the work of our Members.

The Higg Index 2.0 is a suite of sustainability assessment tools that anyone can get started with right away.  These assessments, called modules, evaluate impacts through our three different lenses: Facility, Brand, and Product.  We encourage companies to get started with whatever module(s) makes the most sense to them, and encourage them to branch out and use other Higg Index tools when appropriate.  There is no requirement to use all of the modules.

Introducing the Higg Index 2.0

The Higg Index 2.0 is primarily an indicator based assessment tool for apparel and footwear products.  The Index asks practice-based, qualitative questions to gauge environmental sustainability performance and drive behavior for improvement.  It is based largely on the Eco IndexNike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool, Global Social Compliance Program (GSCP) reference tools, and Social/Labor Best Practice Tools (e.g., SAI Social Fingerprint, FLA Sustainable Compliance Initiative, etc.), however it has been significantly enhanced through a pilot testing period and over 14 months of organizations using the Higg Index 1.0.

The Higg Index 2.0 is a tool to help organizations standardize how they measure and evaluate environmental performance of apparel products across the supply chain at the brand, product, and facility levels.  It is:      

  • a self-assessment tool that enables rapid learning through identification of environmental sustainability hot spots and improvement opportunities;
  • a starting point of engagement, education, and collaboration among stakeholders in advance of more rigorous assessment efforts.

The Higg Index 2.0 is a learning tool for both small and large companies to identify challenges and capture on-going improvement.  It targets a spectrum of performance that allows beginners and leaders in environmental sustainability, regardless of company size, to identify opportunities. 

Scope

The Higg Index 2.0 was developed for apparel and footwear products and both environmental and social/labor performance.

The Higg Index 2.0 is based on life-cycle thinking and spans the apparel life cycle (materials, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, use, and end-of-life).  

Retail activities are not included in The Higg Index 2.0 and will be considered for future releases.

The Higg Index 2.0 Suite of Tools

See below for brief descriptions of the individual tools in the Higg Index 2.0 suite. Go here for information on how to access these tools.

Facility Tools

There are two tools that are ready to be used by facilities, vendors, or manufacturers to assess specific facility sites:

  • Facility Module – Environment: Apparel/Footwear: used to assess environmental performance of material, packaging, and manufacturing facilities.
  • Facility Module – Social/Labor: Apparel/Footwear - Beta: used to assess the social and labor performance of material, packaging, and manufacturing facilities.

Brand Tools

There are three tools that are useful to Brands:

  • Brand Module – Environment: Apparel: assess apparel product-specific environmental practices at the brand level. 
  • Brand Module – Environment: Footwear: assess footwear product-specific environmental practices at the brand level. 
  • Brand Module – Social/Labor: Apparel/Footwear - Beta: assesses social and labor apparel and footwear product-specific social and labor practices at the Brand level.

Product Tools

There are two tools that can help to understand the impacts of products:

  • Rapid Design Module (RDM) – Beta: Prototype to test how we can guide designers on sustainable product design with directionally correct information and streamline decision support framework.
  • Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) Data Explorer: online platform to allow users to understand the data and methodology behind MSI Base Material Scores, which can be seen in the RDM - Beta. Also serves as a data submission platform to improve the quality of material scores or add new materials.

What Has Changed from The Higg Index 1.0 to the Higg Index 2.0?

The tables below summarize the key improvements:

Where We're Headed

With the release of the Higg Index 2.0, the Index has reached a mature phase – the Higg Index 2.0 represents a pivot point where the SAC will now focus its resources on enabling widespread adoption of the Index instead of making wholesale changes to the Index.  That said, the index will always evolve and improve over time.  Below are several areas that are being considered for development, - note that there is no timetable for delivering these improvements

  • Product Assessment: SAC will be evaluating the product assessment needs of the various users in the industry (e.g., designer, sourcing) and what tools to develop to help them make more sustainable choices.  We have learned a great deal from the usage of the Product Module 1.0 and are taking a more holistic view of developing further product assessment tools.  The Rapid Design Module – Beta represents an opportunity for the SAC to continue to test our hypotheses on how to provide better sustainability information to those making critical decisions.
  • Assurance of responses: SAC is considering developing a Higg Index assurance process/protocol to enable organizations to have confidence in others’ assessment responses.
  • Metrics: Expand indicator-based Index to include quantitative data and metrics: In addition to asking “yes/no” questions, ask for data to support quantitative metrics that will help provide a more accurate picture of environmental performance (e.g., energy use data).
  • Scoring: Improve scoring through a systematic review of scoring principles, their application to the Index and the data supporting point allocation. Improve packaging scoring through the use of the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI).  
  • Section weighting: Improve SAC suggested weights through a panel approach involving a larger group of stakeholders and a tailored multi-criteria analysis based approach to elicit weights. Align on one set of weights to enable consistent benchmarking and product comparison for business decisions and consumer-facing communications. 
  • Standards and certification equivalencies: Define and incorporate Index “equivalencies”: In order to simplify the usability of the Index and recognize investments that brands, facilities, and suppliers have made in key certifications or standards, SAC plans to evaluate these and determine where Index questions can be automatically filled in based on achievement of a certain certification or standard.  For example, the Index may have a checkbox asking for a specific certification, and if checked it would auto-populate the corresponding questions in the Index.
  • Materials Sustainability Index (MSI): Refine governance process and increase community engagement to improve the MSI scores and framework, and expand the database as more data, information and methodologies become available and/or evolve.

Additional Information

Watch this video for an introduction to the SAC and Higg Index: