Over 500 Brands Including Walmart, H&M And Nike Agree To Measure Supply Chain Social & Environmental Impact

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The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and its technology partner Higg have released the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM), a value chain sustainability assessment tool for companies to access their social and environmental impact data. Over 500 global brands have embraced the tool to gain a deeper understanding of the ethical and ecological footprint of their operations.

With the release of one of the five Higg Index sustainability measurement tools – Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM), brands including Walmart, Patagonia, Nike, Inc., H&M, and VF Corporation have hopped on the new tool’s wagon to get better data-driven insights into their own systems and value chain practices, thus empowering them to address their social and environmental impact better, with the ultimate effort being to address their role in the global climate crisis. 

Higg is a sustainability insights platform for consumer goods industries developed by The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), an industry-wide group of more than 250 leading companies including apparel, footwear, and trade associations that are working to reduce their impact on the environment and their communities. The Higg Index suite of tools, a standardized measurement of value chain sustainability, includes features for assessing the impact of products, as well as manufacturing facilities.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, Director of Sustainability at Zalando SE, Kate Heiny, said that as part of its sustainability strategy, the company has committed to continuously increase its ethical standards. “And by 2023 we only want to work with partners who align with these standards. We are excited to be collaborating with the SAC to scale a global standard around the measurement of brand performance. By using the Higg BRM as the basis for our mandatory brand assessments, we have comparable sustainability data at the brand level to jointly develop standards that move us forward as an industry.”

The Higg BRM will allow brands to assess themselves across 11 environmental impact areas and 16 social impact areas, spanning a wide range of business operations including packaging, transportation of goods, the environmental impact of stores and offices and the welfare of factory employees.

By using the Higg BRM as the basis for our mandatory brand assessments, we have comparable sustainability data at the brand level to jointly develop standards that move us forward as an industry

Kate Heiny, Director of Sustainability, Zalando SE

The tool aims to help companies of different sizes discover opportunities to improve their supply chains, lower carbon emissions, reduce water use, and ensure that supply chain workers are treated fairly.

Design Director for Buffalo Corporate Men, Claudia Boyer, said that the Higg BRM has helped them collect meaningful data points to continue their development of a responsible, purpose-driven brand. “It allowed us to benchmark our current environmental performance and set bold targets for reduction of chemicals and water consumption in our denim production. The Higg BRM fueled our appetite for continuous improvement of our sustainability performance.”

With corporate sustainability at the core of the regulatory agenda in Europe, organizations can use the tool that will help them in future legislative regulations.

The Higg BRM has allowed us to benchmark our current environmental performance and set bold targets for reduction of chemicals and water consumption in our denim production

Claudia Boyer, Design Director, Buffalo Corporate Men

Head of Sustainable Business at de Bijenkorf, Justin Pariag said: “In 2025 we aim to sell only more sustainable brands; defined as brands who have completed an OECD aligned due diligence process and who work to address their most material impacts with clear progress. The Higg BRM plays a critical role in our journey as it will offer us deep insight and data across all value chain aspects: from materials and production processes to logistics and end of life. We will use this information to better understand our brand partners’ sustainability ambitions, progress, and challenges, so that we can highlight and celebrate their successes and work collectively on improvements.”

Other features of the tool include a responsible purchasing practices section, which highlights the need for integrating due diligence into sourcing decision-making processes. There’s also an alignment with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) that will enable the streamlining of data entry around carbon emissions thus supporting companies to measure and manage their risks and opportunities on climate change, water security, and deforestation.

Until June 30 of this year, SAC member brands and retailers can use the tool to self-assess their sustainability performance of their business and value chain operations in 2020. Beyond that, brands. will be able to verify and analyze their self-assessments through an approved third-party verification body.

In 2025 we aim to sell only more sustainable brands; defined as brands who have completed an OECD-aligned due diligence process and who work to address their most material impacts with clear progress. The Higg BRM plays a critical role in our journey as it will offer us deep insight and data across all value chain aspects

Justin Pariag, Head of Sustainable Business at de Bijenkorf

To gain the most out of this and other Higg tools, companies can use API technology to integrate them into their internal supply chain and product life cycle management systems.

Internal Audit & Sustainability Director of Benetton Group, Roberto Taiariol said that the Benetton Group is dedicated to becoming an agent of social and environmental change, creating increasingly sustainable products and promoting the development of individuals and their communities. “We use the Higg BRM as a tool to measure the social and environmental performance of our value chain and to plan for the future. Over the coming years sustainability will be a driver of development and the BRM assessment will help us invest in more sustainable products, build a supply chain that is even more respectful of the environment and workers’ rights, make our stores and campus more energy-efficient, and commit to reduce waste.”

Several companies are working to develop tools that will help us understand our impacts on climate change and accordingly push for making sustainable decisions to reduce and negate those impacts.

For instance, in January 2021, a new online tool was created for food blogs and websites to add carbon labels to their recipes that will automatically calculate the carbon footprint of recipes using its ingredients, and can even make more specific estimates if the life cycle of a product or food is also provided. 

Back in November of last year, Stripe, one of the biggest online payment processing providers, launched a carbon removal purchase tool that will enable any e-commerce business to contribute a portion of funds to technologies that directly removes carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

With the conscious consumerism trend taking over the fashion industry, Farfetch, the London-based online luxury fashion platform also introduced a fashion footprint tool in an effort to help shoppers track the environmental impact of their spending decisions and another tool, Circulytics, developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and more than 30 collaborating companies, is a digital measuring tool that provides companies with a comprehensive report of circularity across its entire operations with over 500 businesses already signed up, including 121 companies with an annual revenue of over US$1 billion. 


Lead image courtesy of Sustainable Apparel Coalition.


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