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Sustainable Apparel Coalition Launches Higg Index

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) — a global organization established by a group of apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, nongovernmental organizations, academic experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the aim to promote sustainable and socially responsible practices among apparel and footwear producers and reduce the global environmental and social impacts of their products — has launched the Higg Index, a tool for measuring product sustainability across the industry value chain.

Developed by the SAC's membership — including, among others, the Boulder, Colo.-based Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group (OIA SWG) and Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike, the Higg Index is based on established evaluation tools including the OIA Eco Index and Nike's Materials Assessment Tool and offers an improved method of measuring the comprehensive environmental and social impacts of apparel, footwear and gear. Its launch comes after a year of beta testing to measure the sustainability impact of some 150 products from more than 63 companies.

"For more than five years, numerous outdoor industry companies have been collaborating to identify and improve the environmental and social impacts of their product," said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO, OIA. "The Higg Index is the next evolution of our industry's work, and we are thrilled that the SAC adopted our Eco Index and took it to the next level."

The current version of the index offers a transparent, open-source tool to measure the environmental impact of apparel in the categories of water usage and quality, energy and greenhouse gas, waste, chemicals, and toxicity. The SAC is working to refine the tool, and plans to release an updated version in 2013 that incorporates key social and labor metrics. Future iterations will cover footwear and gear.

"The Higg Index marks the most thorough and complete attempt at measuring environmental performance data from material sourcing through end of life," said Jason Kibbey, executive director, SAC. "We are confident it will have a positive impact on product sustainability over time, and become a model for how industries can collaborate in making a positive impact on value chain performance."

July 31, 2012

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