Learn more about the Higg Index FEM V3, its background, verification content and process.

SAFEGUARDS | Supply chain Assessments & Solutions NO. 139/18

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Higg Index FEM background

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a non-profit organization founded in 2011, covering the apparel, footwear and home textile industries. It has more than 200 members, including brands and manufacturers, retailers and government organizations, trade organizations, non-profit organizations, universities and service providers such as SGS. In 2013, SGS formed a strategic partnership with the SAC, as a member of the Steering Technical Committee. Meanwhile, we are directly involved in the development of the Higg V2 & V3 content and verification protocol, as well as steering convergence of Chemical Management for Higg V3. In addition, we are a technical reviewer for the new “How to Higg Manual” and Higg V3 verifier training content. SGS was recently invited to join the Higg Facilities Advisory Council that will replace the Higg steering committee and will drive the development of the Higg Facilities Social and Environmental Modules.

The vision of SAC is to establish a standard tool to measure sustainability performance for the abovementioned industries. The Higg Index is a suite of self-assessment tools, Higg FEM is just one of them, with practical, qualitative questions to assess the environmental performance of sustainable development, pushing manufacturers to improve. A verified module, by the qualified verifier, can improve trust in the supply chain and for customers. Higg FEM version V3 was released in November 2017.

Update of Higg Index FEM V3

  • Compared with V2, the most significant change in the seven sections of V3 are to the chemical management part, which include the integration of ZDHC, OIA and SAC chemical management
  • Applicability test in water use, wastewater, air emissions, chemical management sections
  • Level 1 must be achieved to unlock access to levels 2 & 3

Seven sections of Higg Index FEM V3 content

  • Environmental Management System
  • Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Air Emissions
  • Water Use
  • Wastewater
  • Waste Management
  • Chemicals Management

There are three levels (1, 2 and 3) in all seven sections. Level 1 must be achieved to unlock levels 2 & 3.

Assessment Type of Higg Index FEM V3

  • Higg FEM verification is carried out according to the SAC Higg verification protocol
  • Higg FEM verification is conducted on an announced or semi-announced basis
  • The verifier is responsible to prepare the verified FEM (vFEM) and the facilities have the option to share it with their connections (brands / retailers) Can be conducted onsite or offsite
  • The verified Results of an offsite verification cannot be shared publicly
  • For facilities that are using chemicals in production, Level 2 and/or 3 criteria of the chemical management section can only be assessed through an Onsite Verification by an approve chemical specialist verifier

Assessment Scope of Higg Index FEM V3

All areas under the same business license of the audited facility will be covered.

Higg Index FEM V3 Verification Process

  • Complete self-assessment (deadline: July 15, 2018 for the Higg FEM 2017 modules. June 30, 2019 for the Higg FEM 2018 modules)
  • Contact SGS to conduct verification
  • Get coupon code automatically sent by SAC, follow the process in the email to connect the facility and the verifier
  • In 2018 SGS is responsible for collected the SAC verification fee. This fee is charged on top of the verification cost. In 2019 the SAC will collect directly the verification fee with the facilities when they purchase their FEM access.
  • SGS completes the verified module (vFEM) after onsite verification, the facility received an email confirming that the vFEM is available and have the option to post it (deadline: Dec 31, 2018)
  • Facilities receive a survey from Sumerra that manages the verification program on behalf of the SAC

Higg Index FEM V3 Grading Criteria

Each factory must complete the FEM module once a year. Higg FEM evaluates the environmental performance of the factory in each natural year (for example, the FEM 2017 measures the performance from January to December. 2017). The Higg FEM verified score is based on the percentage of completed applicable questions.

Benefit of verification:

In addition to increasing trust in the Higg Index score provided by a factory, using the self-assessment questionnaire will raise awareness of sustainability and drive continuous improvement. The scheme streamlines the process of finding new business. Importantly, SAC members must accept each other’s reports. Higg Index verification from SGS reduces duplication of effort. An independently verified score can be presented to multiple suppliers/customers with confidence. It also reduces the need for additional site inspections, saving management time and money. On completion, the factory can post and share its Higg index verification results on an online platform (Higg.org) and share it with brands and retailers.

If need more detail, please access to:https://apparelcoalition.zendesk.com/hc/en-us

For enquiries, please contact:

Yolanda Wang
Project leader
t: +86-0512- 62992336

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