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In November 2017, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) released Higg Index Facilities Environmental Module (FEM) Version 3. This contains several updates, including:

  • Applicability test in water use, wastewater, air emissions and chemical management sections
  • Facilities must complete Level 1 to unlock Levels 2 and 3
  • ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals), OIA and SAC chemical management are integrated into the seven sections of V3

The Higg Index has been created by SAC, a non-profit organization covering the apparel, footwear and home textile industries, with the vision of creating a self-assessment tool to measure sustainability performance in these industries. Higg FEM is one module, containing practical, qualitative questions to assess the environmental performance of sustainable development, with the objective of pushing manufacturers to improve their performance. It is made up of seven sections:

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

Beyond self-assessment, facilities can also get their scores independently verified by approved organizations like SGS. There are several benefits to receiving verification, not least the improved trust it creates among customers and other economic operators in a supply chain.

Verification must be carried out in accordance with SAC Higg verification protocols. It is conducted on an announced or semi-announced basis, and can be carried out onsite or offsite, although an offsite verification cannot be shared publicly. Stakeholders should also note: a facility using chemicals as part of its production can only access Level 2 and/or 3 following onsite assessment by an approved chemical specialist verifier. Finally, assessment will cover all areas of the facility under the same business license.

Higg Index FEM V3 must be completed annually. It runs from January to December each year and, following verification, provides a score based on the percentage of completed applicable questions, giving an evaluation of the environmental performance of the facility.

Benefit of verification:

Other benefits of undertaking Higg Index self-assessment include:

  • Better awareness of sustainability
  • Instigates continuous improvements
  • Helps streamline processes
  • Encourages new business – verified score can be presented to multiple customers
  • Reduces replication and need for additional site inspections
  • Saves time and money

SAC currently has over 200 members, including brands and manufacturers, retailers and government organizations, trade organizations, non-profit organizations, universities and service providers such as SGS. SGS formed a strategic partnership with SAC in 2013, becoming a member of the Steering Technical Committee. SGS has also been directly involved in the development of Higg V2 and V3 content and verification protocols, 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. In recent months, SGS has been invited to join the Higg Facilities Advisory Council, the replacement for the Higg steering committee that will drive the development of the Higg Facilities Social and Environmental Modules.

To learn more:

SGS Environmental Audit Services

SGS offers a range of services to help companies develop and manage comprehensive programs related to better environmental sustainability. In addition to assessment, they also offer training, monitoring, coaching and certification solutions tailored to the need of each facility. Learn more about SGS’s Environmental Audit Services.

SGS SafeGuardS keep you up to date with the latest news and developments in the consumer goods industry. Read the full Higg Index FEM V3 Program: An Introduction SafeGuardS.

Subscribe here to receive SGS SafeGuardS direct to your inbox.

For further information contact:

Yolanda Wang

Project leader

Tel: +86-0512- 62992336



About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 95,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,400 offices and laboratories around the world.