Environmental transformation blocked without transparency and incentives says study from UC Berkeley
A four-year study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley has found that without action from apparel brands around transparency and incentives, the potential for the fashion industry’s sustainability tools to transform the industry is limited. The researchers are now calling for an acceleration of industry action and tool innovation to drive real transformation.
This study focuses on the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM), part of the Higg Index suite of tools, developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and now delivered by a technology spin-off, Higg Co. The Higg FEM is widely regarded as the most technologically advanced information-based strategy in the apparel sector. The annual Higg FEM measures an apparel facility’s environmental management capabilities, procedures and plans and the self-assessment is carried out by thousands of factories every year.
The independent research concludes that while the Higg Index has laid an important foundation for factory measurement, its effectiveness in driving action and change has been limited by slow progress on transparency and a lack of incentives between buyers and factories. Providing information that is material and meaningful to consumers, investors, and NGOs will unlock incentives for the best brands and factories to drive change.
Jill Tucker, Head of Labour Rights at Laudes Foundation emphasises that “information is power.” Studies such as this one reiterate that, “only through public disclosure of company performance will voluntary initiatives like the SAC hold businesses accountable to improve their environmental impact and truly change fashion into a force for good.”
To read the full report, Measurement without Clear Incentives to Improve: The Impacts of the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) on Apparel Factory Practice and Performance, visit here.