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SAN FRANCISCO – The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s love affair with polyester fibre is in further evidence with its release of the latest incarnation of the Higg Material Sustainability Index (MSI). Figures from the all-new fibre scoring tool show the environmental impact of polyester according to the MSI has fallen from 44 to 36 – making it by far and away the most sustainable fibre on the planet. Meanwhile, Higg’s completely unwarranted attack on the silk industry (and other natural fibres) continues – silk’s impact per kilo has risen from 681 to 1086 per kilo.

In its press launch for the latest Higg MSI, the SAC offers no explanation as it why the scores of silk and polyester have changed in this way. While the SAC remains secretive about the underlying LCA data for its MSI scores, from what we can gather the new scores given to silk and polyester are based on the same underlying data, which makes them even more perplexing.

In the latest edition of Apparel Insider magazine, we look in detail at the Higg MSI and outline why it simply cannot be trusted as a tool to tell us what is or is not sustainable. Indeed, we believe the MSI represents a grave threat to a more environmentally sustainable apparel industry.

In a detailed essay on the subject, Veronica Bates Kassatly argues: “It is immediately apparent that the sole engine and enabler of the unsustainable surge in fibre and fabric production that has occurred since 1990 (so called ‘Fast Fashion), is polyester.

“… let’s remember that while the SAC and their very supportive funding brands all try to portray the Higg as sole arbiter of what is or is not more sustainable in the apparel sector, this role is entirely self-appointed. You, I, or the average silk, wool or cotton farmer have no right to see how the index values were calculated, what underlying LCA was used – let alone what it said – and have neither voice nor recourse in any of it. The big brands have decided and we are expected to listen.”

Kassatly argues that the Higg MSI cannot be trusted and lacks all credibility because, among other things, it ignores socioeconomic impact, it is cradle to grave only and it ignores the appalling environmental impact of polyester microfibre shedding.

To read the full piece, click HERE for subscriptions.


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