As previously reported, the tools are up for independent review this year, an announcement that coincided with the pause of its consumer-facing transparency program after greenwashing claims by the Norwegian Consumer Authority. A Wednesday announcement from the SAC detailed further expectations and a timeline for the review.
“Of course, it is important to be clear that the full suite of tools is still very much active and available to all users,” said Jeremy Lardeau, vice president of the Higg Index, in a blog post Wednesday. “The review is being carried out to ensure continuous improvement, the context in which the tools are used continues to evolve, and with it so must the tools. This is true of almost any system, database or tool for measurement. We are committed to ongoing improvement to help ensure we are providing the industry with the strongest tools available to enable social and environmental change.”
While the SAC owns and oversees the Higg Index methodology, the tech platform Higg hosts the data itself. The SAC’s last independent review of the Higg Index was more than five years ago. The Higg Index includes the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI), the Higg Product Module (Higg PM), Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM), and Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM).
Big-five accounting firm KPMG will lead the independent audit. KPMG has been an independent auditor for other companies including Accenture, Halliburton, CitiGroup, and Coca-Cola.
“While dates remain fluid as recruitment is finalized, we hope that SAC will receive the comprehensive report and recommendations in June 2023,” Lardeau said.
The process outlined includes the recruitment of 30 independent professionals (10 people for each component of the Higg Index — or facility, product, and brand). Once the recruitment of the panels is finalized, the review process will take approximately 11 weeks. Following review, the report is to be published in full.
The SAC anticipates potential updates in regard to impact.
“This is where there could be potential for updates to the MSI and Product Module tools in the form of additional impact categories and shows where and how the world has moved on since the last review — for example, there are five impact categories at the moment and, in comparison, the hoped-for PEF from the European Commission has 16. We hope the review will help to identify data gaps to prioritize, and we can use this insight to further encourage the industry to step up and provide continuously stronger and independently verified LCA data to lock into the tools,” he said.
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