13 Oct 2022

Comment on Linkedin from Brett Mathews, publisher and editor of Apparel Insider

Strict new guidance from Norway and the Netherlands appears to make consumers facing Higg apparel labels untenable.

Norway and Holland have issued stringent guidelines on the use of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg MSI tool in marketing.

The strict guidelines have been drawn up by the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) and the Dutch Authority for Consumer and Markets (ACM).

They include a range of caveats relating to how consumer-facing Higg labels would – in theory – be presented to consumers.

This includes explaining on a consumer label some of the nuances underpinning the Higg MSI (which continue to baffle even those within the fashion industry).

The two authorities have called on the SAC to bring in independent expert to review the Higg MSI, including its datasets which are outdated and not representative in many cases.

Crucially, they have called for regular independent reviews of the Higg MSI datasets, a process the SAC has shown little appetite for in the past.

The guidelines also state that Higg labels would have to explain to the consumer that:

  • The Higg MSI uses global averages and such numbers are not directly related to the production of the specific product
  • The data being used only concerns specific environmental impact categories.
  • The Higg MSI covers only cradle to factory gate, not the full lifecycle of a garment. This means it ignores, for instance, environmental impacts associated with oil extraction for polyester and microplastic pollution.

QUOTE: Trond Rønningen, director of the Norwegian Consumer Authority said: “It is positive that the textile industry wants to display credible data about the materials used in garments in their marketing to consumers.”However, it is important that any claims about the environmental impact of garments and textiles are correct. Such claims must be substantiated by correct and sufficient data, and not presented in a misleading way.

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