CALIFORNIA – US-based Higg Co has rebranded as Worldly in what appears to be an effort to distance itself from the controversy surrounding the Higg Index, the ‘assessment tool’ which was paused last year amid accusations of greenwashing.
In a press release, Worldly claimed its platform will allow fashion and consumer brands and manufacturers to, “more efficiently collect and validate energy, water and waste data from their utility bills in order to track and report on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and reduce their impacts – all through a single platform.”
As part of the re-branding, Worldly has announced a new partnership with SGS, the world’s largest testing, inspection and certification company.
Despite the re-branding, there is still mention of the Higg Index on the Worldly (HiggCo?) website, and it is unclear where one stops and the other begins. The website says: “Worldly is the exclusive licensee of the Higg Index, the sustainability impact measurement tools used by more apparel, footwear and textile brands than any other solution.”
In January, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition announced that it was pausing its product-labelling Higg tool after the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) warned H&M Group against using the Higg index to support its environmental claims.
Many thought that might be the end of the road for Higg. However, at present, consultants KPMG are carrying out a review of the Higg Index, the findings of which are set to be published in June.
So what of Worldly? Its premise (as far as we can tell) is the collection and validation of supply chain impact data. However, this data is all self-reported by manufacturers, which surely leaves the industry (once again) open to accusations of corner cutting and marking its own homework. Moreover, it raises the question of whether this method of capturing sustainability data appropriate is appropriate. Would this kind of data pass muster for investors and regulators, for instance?
Meanwhile, a post on LinkedIn by Philippa Grogan illustrates the challenges faced by Worldly, Higg (if it still exists) and the SAC moving ahead. Comments under the past made reference to greenwashing, with one poster perfectly encapsulating the frustration by many in the industry. “Jeez, they never quit,” the frustrated commentator said.