SAC Pauses Higg MSI, Announces Third Party Review

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), in the dock over the use of its Higg MSI tool, has paused the 'transparency' tool across the world. The decision comes almost two weeks after the Norwegian Consumer Agency (Forbrukertilsynet) ruled that the Higg MSI tool is not sufficient as a basis for the environmental claims that outdoor brand Norrøna and fast fashion giant H&M were using in marketing themselves and their products.

Long Story, Cut Short
  • The Norwegian Consumer Agency, in a ruling announced on 16 June, said that Norrøna was breaking the law when they marketed their clothes as environment-friendly. H&M was issued the same warning.
  • The Natural Fibers Alliance called for a suspension of the Higg MSI a day later.
  • The tool had come under fire, especially after two media reports exposed the lack of transparency.
The NCA has concluded that this tool is not sufficient as a basis for the environmental claims they have used in marketing. It has now sent letters to Norrøna, H&M and Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), supplier of the tool Higg MSI.
Shadowy Tool The NCA has concluded that this tool is not sufficient as a basis for the environmental claims they have used in marketing. It has now sent letters to Norrøna, H&M and Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), supplier of the tool Higg MSI. Kishor / Unsplash

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has paused its consumer facing transparency programme globally. The decision comes in the wake of the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) sending a notification to two SAC member companies—Norrøna and H&M—regarding the use of LCA data being used to support consumer facing environmental claims.

The SAC on Monday issued a statement saying, "We have made the decision to pause the consumer facing transparency programme globally as we work with the NCA and other consumer agencies and regulators to better understand how to substantiate product level claims with trusted and credible data. While we remain fully committed to the use of standardized data to empower better decision making with all stakeholders, we recognise the additional challenges that come from translating LCA data to consumer facing information. We will be working with our programme partners directly to determine how this will work operationally and hope to reactivate the programme upon alignment with the NCA and other regulatory bodies."

Higg up for review: The SC has now commissioned an independent third party expert review of the Higg MSI data and methodology. "This review was last carried out in 2016 and is a planned action that we are accelerating in light of the NCA notification. We are also working on a comprehensive programme, through industry partnerships, to gather and update the environmental impact data quality and accessibility needed for the industry to drive more informed decisions," the SAC said.

The statement remarked: "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 delayed by the lack of harmonized legislation and clear guidance from regulators. We know how important it is that our members and the wider industry have trust not just in our mission, purpose and approach, but also the data and insights that sit behind our tools."

 
 
  • Dated posted: June 27, 2022
  • Last modified: June 27, 2022