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BERKELEY – A four-year study into one of the key tools of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition – the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) – failed to find any “conclusive data” to show that it had helped improve environmental performance in apparel supply chains.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley carried out a painstaking study of the FEM, using primary and secondary research. The tool is part of of the Higg Index suite of tools, developed by the SAC and now delivered by a technology spin-off, Higg Co.

Suppliers in the likes of Bangladesh, China and Vietnam pay around US$3,000 annually to use the FEM.

However, the researchers claim the tool is hampered because it lacks transparency, data is unreliable (as it self-reported by factories) and the tool provides no incentives for factory to change.

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