Note: This article predates our launch as Worldly.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – At the Circularity 21 conference this week in North America, sustainability insights platform Higg, in partnership with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), announced a new tool that evaluates the comprehensive environmental impact of products. Brands and manufacturers can use the Higg Product Module (PM) to develop apparel, footwear, and other consumer goods products with lower sustainability impacts, from reduced water use and lower carbon emissions throughout the value chain. Companies can also use the new tool to pursue product circularity strategies — designing out waste and extending resource use — by examining the end of use of products and exploring how to prolong a product’s life.
“The Product Module helps MATE balance company growth and environmental impact, so that we can address the climate crisis,” says Kayti O’Connell Carr, Founder, CEO, MATE the Label. “We use the PM to estimate things like carbon emissions, water use, water pollution, and energy use of each of our products. We can see where we are doing well and where our largest impacts are, so we can make improvements. As we move MATE towards a more circular business model, the PM will help us gain deeper visibility into our supply chain impacts with data we know we can rely on.”
Higg is introducing the only software tool on the market that can help companies calculate at scale the environmental footprint of their products beyond carbon emissions. As companies commit to science-based corporate sustainability goals, the product tool will help them gain a clearer picture of their holistic sustainability performance and enable progress towards circularity goals.
Moving beyond a “materials-only” view of product impact, the new tool also considers design, manufacturing, packaging, logistics, excess production, product durability, care, and end of use, delivering a full view of a product’s comprehensive environmental impacts. More than 150 companies have already used the product tool to assess over 1,000 products. Many of these companies are members of the SAC, which developed the tool methodology, marking the completion of its Higg Index, a suite of tools, known as ‘modules’, for standardized measurement of product circularity and sustainability across the full value chain.
“PEARL iZUMi couldn’t be more pleased with the tools and data provided from the Higg Index,” says Aaron Kutzer, Senior Manager, Retail Division, Pearl iZUMi. “The Product Module and the detailed data it delivers inspired our new Pedal to Zero program which allows our customers to do what they love — ride bikes for fun, fitness, transportation and arguably, sanity — and now, also to purposefully offset the environmental impacts of the products they use. By scaling the Product Module, we can achieve our evolving corporate responsibility goals and even enlist our customers to help do the same.”
As corporate sustainability goals evolve, consumers and regulatory bodies expect the fashion industry to be more transparent. Brands need data that paints a full picture of their impact. The product tool was developed with these expectations in mind and can help companies prepare for anticipated legislation. It is the closest tool to the future Product Environmental Footprint, a new method for measuring product sustainability developed by the European Commission. For organizations with an EU presence, the Higg product tool is designed to evolve and aims to conform with the future EU PEF Apparel & Footwear Methodology.
In response to such developments, companies continue to step up climate change initiatives and are eager to signal their commitments to operating within planetary boundaries. Many focus on reducing carbon emissions as a starting point, in line with global efforts such as the Paris Agreement. Brands can use the new product tool to assess their supply chain Scope 3 category emissions from purchased goods and services as well as the impacts from the use of sold products and the end-of-life treatment of sold products, for a comprehensive carbon footprint assessment.
Following today’s announcement, consumer goods industries can move beyond simply measuring disparate environmental impacts of products, an important step towards meaningful consumer-facing sustainability claims, another area Higg is focused on in partnership with the SAC, as revealed by the rollout of Sustainability Profiles scorecards last month.
“The ability to link sustainability data at the product level, right back through all points in the value chain is an essential step in bridging the gap between real impact reduction and product claims to consumers,” says Higg CEO Jason Kibbey. “Smart businesses are recognizing they need to move fast and holistically to meet climate goals. It requires pace and integration that demands technology solutions.”
Higg is the sustainability insights platform for consumer goods industries, delivering software and services for measuring, managing, and sharing supply chain performance data.
From materials to products, from facilities to stores, across energy, waste, water, and working conditions, Higg unlocks a complete view of a business’s social and environmental impact. Built on the leading framework for sustainability measurement, Higg is trusted by global brands, retailers, and manufacturers to provide the comprehensive intelligence needed to accelerate business and industry transformation. Product circularity is evolving and Higg is at the forefront.
Spun out of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in 2019 as a public-benefit technology company, Higg is the exclusive licensee of the Higg Index, a suite of tools for the standardized measurement of supply chain sustainability.