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SAN FRANCISCO – The Sustainable Apparel Coalition wants to incorporate a weighting for microfibre pollution into its Higg Material Sustainability Index, “as quickly as possible.” However, the US body has told Apparel Insider the stumbling block is a lack of credible, widely accepted methodology for microfibre impact. The SAC’s CEO, Jason Kibbey, was responding to our suggestion that polyester’s high ranking on the Higg MSI appears somewhat anomalous given ongoing and high profile concerns around microplastics and associated microfibre pollution in waterways.

Kibbey told Apparel Insider: “While Microfibre pollution is an important issue, it isn’t the only one and carbon, water, eutrophication, chemistry intensity, waste, are all important resources issues as well. At this point given that there isn’t deep understanding of the impacts microfibres as a whole for all fibre types and there isn’t a methodology or data that meaningfully and credibly compares all fiber types we believe it is premature to make judgements of fibres on that single issue.

“We believe a better understanding of microfibres is really important and would like to incorporate credible information into the MSI as quickly as possible and as soon as peer reviewed, published, consensus methodologies emerge around microfibres we will incorporate them into the ranking and weigh that issue amongst the other critical issues.

“We only use methodologies that are more broadly accepted as inputs to the MSI and a widely accepted methodology for microfiber measurement hasn’t emerged yet, let alone a bevy of materials with testing results from the agreed upon methodology.”

The SAC also updated us on adoption statistics for Higg MSI, relevant from the beginning of May. To press, there are 1020 users of the tool across 451 organisations. 3187 custom materials have been created and 1169 products scored.

Higg MSI is a tool which attempts to help the apparel, footwear, and textile industry to assess the environmental impact of materials used in global manufacturing. The Higg MSI now features 80 base materials, including cotton, polyester, and silk. The update includes a new feature that enables suppliers to share sustainability performance information about their materials with brands and retailers.

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