The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), together with two of our members, Norrøna and H&M, have received a notification from the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) regarding the use of LCA data being used to support consumer facing environmental claims. Over the past week, we’ve taken time to reflect on the notification and the implications it may have across our industry and others.
As an organization focused on driving positive environmental change in the fashion industry, we take the notification from the NCA extremely seriously. It is critical we seek to understand how to improve this work and act urgently and decisively to ensure the changes that are needed both in the industry and at consumer level are accelerated, and not delayed by the lack of harmonized legislation and clear guidance from regulators. We know how important it is that our members and the wider industry have trust not just in our mission, purpose and approach, but also the data and insights that sit behind our tools.
We have made the decision to pause the consumer facing transparency program globally as we work with the NCA and other consumer agencies and regulators to better understand how to substantiate product level claims with trusted and credible data. This specifically means temporarily removing the published Higg Index seal and scorecard from the participating online retail platforms while further evaluation takes place. While we remain fully committed to the use of standardized data to empower better decision making with all stakeholders, we recognise the additional challenges that come from translating LCA data to consumer facing information. We will be working with our program partners directly to determine how this will work operationally and hope to reactivate the program upon alignment with the NCA and other regulatory bodies.
To further support this, we are, with urgency, commissioning an independent third party expert review of the Higg MSI data and methodology. The Higg MSI and other Higg Index tools are still active and available to all users on the Higg platform and will remain so during this review. This review was last carried out in 2016 and is a planned action that we are accelerating in light of the NCA notification. We are also working on a comprehensive program, through industry partnerships, to gather and update the environmental impact data quality and accessibility needed for the industry to drive more informed decisions.
The SAC brings together over 50% of the apparel industry in aligning on a common framework and approach to standardized data, while sharing knowledge and best practice in a pre-competitive forum. Without this, the industry relies on disparate and disjointed data, individual company initiatives, resulting in slower and fragmented progress. We want to engage better with our key stakeholders as well as our critics to understand their perspectives and develop a shared understanding of the need to accelerate standardized global frameworks, supported by effective harmonized regulation. This dialogue and understanding will help us achieve our vision of empowering consumers to make better decisions with trusted and credible data. We remain ardently committed to playing our role in supporting the fashion and apparel sector to become more responsible and look forward to partnering and collaborating with others towards aligned goals for our industry.
Change won’t happen without collaboration; we are using this opportunity to encourage other industry voices and stakeholders to get in touch with ideas, changes or suggestions for how we might work together to accelerate transformation.