Salomon recently unveiled its Play-Minded Program addressing the company’s immediate and long-term sustainable objectives. In the Annecy Design Center, the heart of Salomon, several people work on finding solutions to reach these objectives. In the Footwear department, Damien GOERUNG, in charge of Footwear Sustainable Development, Hélène VALLIN, Material Footwear Developer and Céline MAZARS, Material Manager Footwear are tackling this issue for the Footwear Department. Their role is to drive sustainability efforts in SALOMON and try to find new ways to create more sustainable footwear. They aren’t alone in this task. The SALOMON Sustainable Taskforce holds monthly meetings to help structuring the company's sustainable efforts. But these 3 people are also in charge of a very special tool to help them with their task: the HIGG Index. We interviewed Damien GOERUNG so he could tell us more what it is that they do and how it's going to change things at SALOMON.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THE SUSTAINABLE APPAREL COALITION IS AND HOW SALOMON IS INVOLVED?
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is an alliance of brands, retailers, manufacturers, academics institutes, affiliates and Governments for sustainable production in the fields of apparel, footwear, and textile industry. The collaboration was initiated back in 2010, from a joint letter inviting CEOs of leading global companies to come together and develop a sustainability index. In 2016, it made massive sense for SALOMON to board the ship for 3 reasons:
- SALOMON is an inspiring brand; we want to show our customers the right glide path to follow and have a positive influence on our environment.
- Our Playground, the outdoor, is our reason to be, and we must protect it actively.
- We have a commitment to be transparent towards our customers.
Today, SALOMON is part of the consultative group to recommend and help the SAC improve the Higg Index Tools.
THE COALITION CREATED THE HIGG INDEX, CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW THAT WORKS?
The Higg Index is made of 3 modules with precise targets;
- The Higg Facilities Module helps with assessing the social and environmental impact of a company’s facilities. It’s focused on the producing processes and its management.
- The Higg Product Module assesses the environmental impact of every single material used by a company. It can deliver a precise score for each product by compiling each material used and its impact. It is comprised of the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and the Design & Development Module (DDM).
- The Brand and Retail Module measures the impact of the whole lifecycle of a product, from its design to its disposal. It includes the impact of the brand and its retailers.
HOW DOES SALOMON USE THE HIGG INDEX IN ITS EVERYDAY WORK?
The first thing to know is that SALOMON has laid out a short and long-term glide path for its sustainability program, the Play Minded Program.
By 2025, all our footwear products will be sold with a clear environmental score and will respond to at least one of the circular economy principles.
Giving an environmental performance score to our products requires that we gather our suppliers' data concerning the production processes. The Material Sustainability Index can provide a score for each material used during this process. With over 1300 different materials used in footwear at SALOMON during the product development and creation process, it’s crucial for us to work closely with our suppliers. By combining the MSI and the DDM, we will be able to give a clear “sustainable score” to our footwear products.
Recently, SALOMON has also taken actions to help its suppliers give a score to their processes and materials. SALOMON conducted two training sessions, and the SAC has been interested in sharing this as SALOMON is a pioneer in this approach
SALOMON is committed to the Union Fashion charter requirements, which involves a reduction of our CO2 emissions of 30% by 2030, and to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The Higg Index tools can help to assess and find actions to put in place to support carbon emission reduction. The Higg Facilities Module allows our facilities and suppliers to assess their own environmental impact, which gives a final score that is meant to improve every year. But the Higg Facilities Module also helps to measure the impact of water usage, energy usage, wastewater management, chemical management, and waste management. Our suppliers and factories have a set of targets to reach every year, currently focused on chemicals and waste. Then comes the Higg Product module: every industrial process creates carbon emissions, which appears in the evaluation provided by this tool. Once all our suppliers are using the Product module for their processes, we will be able to benchmark and focus on the less impacting materials.
SALOMON also encourages designers and suppliers to use less impactful materials and processes in their everyday work!
HOW WILL SALOMON USE THE HIGG INDEX TO IMPROVE IN THE FUTURE?
SALOMON has set objectives for the different Higg Modules that will drive future efforts in sustainability. Regarding the Facilities Module for suppliers, the two main objectives for 2018 were:
- Reaching 60% of self-assessment for suppliers; we reached 64% of self-assessed suppliers thanks to great collaboration and efforts from SALOMON to encourage the implementation of the FEM.
- Having 14 identified & verified selected suppliers; objective reached for 2018.
On the factories' side, 100% of SALOMON's facilities have been verified for over 2 years. Regarding the Product Module, 60% (700) of our materials have been inserted into the MSI database.
The work on the Higg Index is a long and tedious one as it requires to consider every facility, every process, every material. Being able to display a clear sustainable score on a product will be made possible when SALOMON has completed both the Facilities Module and the Product Module, in 2025.