The index premiums polyester as one particular of the world’s most sustainable fabrics, for example, applying data on European polyester production furnished by a plastics-sector team, whilst most of the world’s polyester is built in Asia, usually working with a dirtier power grid and below significantly less stringent environmental rules. The Higg rating for elastane, also acknowledged as Lycra or spandex, draws on a examine by what was at the time the world’s largest elastane producer, Invista, a subsidiary of the conglomerate Koch Industries. (Invista sold its Lycra enterprise in 2019.)
The Higg Index itself was born a decade or so back amid a growing emphasis amongst individuals on sustainability, environmental and animal-welfare concerns. It coincided with developments in synthetic-dependent materials that were not only inexpensive but experienced new capabilities that consumers craved, these kinds of as enhanced elasticity or enhancements in the skill to wick away perspiration.
Several of the garment brands that sit on the board of the group that oversees the index income from two manner megatrends that directly benefited from advancements in synthetics like these: speedy vogue and athleisure. The quickly vogue huge H&M, for instance, shows what it calls Higg-based sustainability profiles along with some of its merchandise.
“Higg’s associates, a whole lot of them are rapidly manner manufacturers, and they all use predominantly polyester. So it favors them to get polyester a much better rating,” mentioned Brett Mathews, main editor of Clothing Insider, an sector-targeted publication centered in London. But the facts utilised was “very very poor,” he said, and “the web result is that the actual Higg rating, which states this fiber is a lot more sustainable than that one, is misleading to people.”
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition said organization information was accurate and in depth, and experienced been collected in line with industry criteria. Any gap among European and Chinese polyester output would be little in contrast to other discrepancies in creating the textiles, like the knitting or weaving approach, it explained.
H&M, which sits on the coalition board, said the index was primarily based on “standardized and verified third bash facts,” and that the instrument was staying “continuously made and enhanced.” Walmart mentioned the Higg was not the only software it applied to improve the sustainability of its attire, and that it ongoing to evaluate the index’s capabilities. Invista did not react to a request for remark.