The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has released the Higg Index 2.0, a new enhanced and web-based version of the Higg Index, first launched in July 2012 to better assess the sustainability of the outdoor and athletic industry's products and their supply chains. After 14 months of testing by dozens of apparel and footwear companies, it features improved ways to measure environmental and social impacts and brings footwear more fully into the picture.

While the index will continue to evolve, the SAC is turning its attention to facilitating its widespread adoption throughout the apparel and footwear industry. The European Outdoor Group is one of the members of the SAC along with many vendors as retailers including Adidas, Asics, Columbia Sportswear, Ecco, Fenix Outdoor, Kering, Marmot, New Balance, Nike, Patagonia, Puma, VF Corp., LL Bean, Mountain Equipment Co-op, REI, Target and Walmart. Other companies including Marks & Spencer, Levi Strauss and Hennes & Mauritz are said to be supporting the new index, too.

The new index includes a Chemicals Management Module developed with the Sustainability Working Group of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). It incorporates tools to assess specific manufacturing facilities, product-specific environmental practices at the brand level and to help designers and others to understand the environmental impacts of materials and other products.

The new system, which is now in a beta testing phase, allows members of the SAC to interact more easily thanks to its Internet software, which has been developed by Schneider Electric.

The Higg Index has its foundation in the Eco Index, the first environmental assessment tool developed by the OIA, and Nike's Environmental Design Tool. Since 2007, more than 250 companies that are members of the OIA in the U.S. and the rest of the world have developed tools and resources to help benchmark and measure their environmental and social impacts. Some 100 companies have used the first version of the Higg Index.