The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), together with two of its members, H&M and Norrøna, has announced that it will be pausing its use of the Higg Index after a report by the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) found it was misleading consumers.
A statement from the SAC’s CEO, Amina Razvi, said that the organisation will be working closely with the NCA and other stakeholders and regulators to “better understand how to substantiate product level claims with trusted and credible data”.
Additionally, Razvi said the SAC will be carrying out a third-party review of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) data and methodology, which was last evaluated in 2016, and will be working on a programme alongside other organisations to update its data.
In the statement, Razvi commented: “As an organisation focused on driving positive environmental change in the fashion industry, we take the notification from the NCA extremely seriously. It is critical we seek to understand how to improve this work and act urgently and decisively to ensure the changes that are needed both in the industry and at consumer level are accelerated, and not deleted by the lack of harmonised legislation and clear guidance from regulators.”
Criticism for the Higg Index has risen following a report from the NCA that found the system appeared to have broken guidelines under Norway’s Marketing Control Act, which targets green claims made by businesses, and could potentially see it banned from being used throughout Norway.
According to the Norwegian authorities, the tool is “not sufficient as a basis for the environmental claims they have used in marketing”, with its director, Trond Rønningen, stating that it can ultimately be misleading to consumers.
The Higg Index, which was launched in 2011, comprises a set of five tools that were initially developed to help retailers measure sustainability in a consistent way. Its MSI tool, specifically, was created to allow designers and product developers to assess the impact of possible manufacturing variations.