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SAC's Updated Higg Tool Provides Industry Baseline for Impacts of Textiles

Image credit: Sustainable Apparel Coalition

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has launched a new version of its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI), a cradle-to-gate scoring tool that measures and communicates the environmental performance of thousands of materials used in creating apparel, footwear and home textile products.

The Higg MSI is one in a suite of SAC’s publicly available self-assessment tools known as the Higg Index, which aims to empower brands, retailers and manufacturers to measure their environmental, social and labor impacts at every stage of their products’ lifecycle and value chain. The brands then share those measurements through verification and industry transparency.

“The new materials database/MSI represents a leap forward in standardizing the way apparel companies profile materials, sustainable or otherwise,” said Barruch Ben-Zekry, VF Corporation’s Director of Sustainable Products and Materials. “This provides the type of certainty in interpretation that will help guide our industry toward better materials choices. At VF, we’ve already begun to integrate the MSI into our internal systems of product impact measurement and we will continue to advocate that others do the same.”

The original version of the Higg MSI was developed by Nike and later adopted by the SAC in 2012 and incorporated into the SAC’s Higg Index. 

The updated Higg MSI provides:

  • A centralized database accessible to the public
  • A common baseline for material performance against which textile manufacturers can work to improve their performance and differentiate their capabilities with their customers
  • Information in a user-centric way that empowers product designers and developers to iterate on designs while considering sustainability during the product creation process
  • Contributions to the spectrum of known environmental impacts against which material impacts are evaluated, including climate change, eutrophication, abiotic resource depletion (fossil fuels), water scarcity and usage, and chemistry

“The updated Higg MSI paves the way for deeper material transparency and awareness of environmental impacts,” said SAC CEO Jason Kibbey. “It is a vital addition to the Higg Index, allowing us to do brand-, facility-, and product-level assessment.”

The new and improved Higg MSI adds to a growing arsenal of resources aimed at helping one of the world’s most polluting industries clean up its act – by eliminating waste, greatly reducing the impacts of textile manufacturing, and scaling availability of safe chemicals and materials.


Talia Rudee lives in Seattle with a passion for sustainability, triathlon, and desserts. She has a BA in Environmental Sociology from Whitman College and is currently working toward an MBA in Sustainable Systems at Presidio Graduate School, Seattle campus. As… [Read more about Talia Rudee]