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March 2, 2021

500 brands to measure value chain impacts with new Higg BRM

By Beth Wright

Nike, Inc,  H&M and VF Corporation are among more than 500 global brands that have committed to using the latest version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM), a value chain sustainability assessment tool released by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and its technology partner Higg. 

Walmart and Patagonia are also among the companies that will use the Higg BRM over the next two years to gain a deeper understanding of their own operations and their value chain practices with the goal of improving social and environmental impacts and working together to fight the climate crisis.

Through 30 June, SAC member brands and retailers have the opportunity to use the Higg BRM to self-assess the social and environmental sustainability performance of their 2020 business and value chain operations. Then, from May to December, companies have the option to verify their self-assessments through an approved third-party verification body.

One of the five Higg Index sustainability measurement tools, the Higg BRM enables evaluation of the social and environmental impacts of brands across a wide range of business operations, from packaging and transportation of goods, to the environmental impact of stores and offices and the well-being of factory employees. The assessment measures 11 environmental impact areas and 16 social impact areas. Through the Higg sustainability platform, companies of all sizes can uncover opportunities to improve their supply chains, from lowering carbon emissions, reducing water use, and ensuring supply chain workers are treated fairly.

In Europe, where corporate sustainability is at the forefront of the regulatory agenda, businesses must ensure their operations follow responsible practices. Companies can use the Higg BRM to get ahead of the curve when it comes to future legislative regulations. They can evaluate their value chain practices and their partners’ practices against the baseline of the anticipated policy following the OECD Due Diligence guidance for the apparel and footwear sector, SAC and Higg say.

The latest version of the Higg BRM features a responsible purchasing practices section, emphasising the importance of integrating due diligence into sourcing decision-making processes. The update also introduces a score for responsible purchasing practices, reflecting the SAC and Higg’s central goals to develop tools that drive industry improvements. The BRM will continue to evolve and leverage data and technology to help companies meet OECD due diligence requirements and responsible business practices.

Another new feature of Higg BRM is its alignment with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), facilitating the streamlining of data entry around carbon emissions. The CDP supports thousands of companies, cities, states, and regions to measure and manage their risks and opportunities on climate change, water security, and deforestation. When companies use Higg, they will save time on carbon data collection, alleviating reporting fatigue. They can increasingly use Higg as a “one-stopshop” for sustainability assessment and data analytics and leverage comprehensive insights without having to duplicate efforts already undertaken for other assessments, SAC and Higg note.

To gain the most out of the Higg tools and accelerate sustainability improvement, companies integrate them into their internal supply chain and product life cycle management systems through API technology. Future plans for the Higg BRM include integration with other Higg tools and systems to further simplify data collection efforts while providing a full view of end-to-end supply chain impacts and improvement opportunities.

“Aligned measurement and reporting standards globally will play a crucial role in enabling the industry to more effectively address key global sustainability challenges, including climate change. The SAC, working together with Higg, will continue to evolve and develop the Higg BRM in order to make sustainability assessments even more widely accessible,” the two parties say.

Earlier this month, SAC said ten years on from its launch, its goals for the next decade are to provide the building blocks necessary to help the industry make smarter and more informed decisions about the products it makes. 

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