Maharam is committed to the implementation of progressive environmental practices as a matter of corporate and design philosophy. Over the past decade Maharam has sought a detailed understanding of its environmental impact and, through its approach to product and practices, has articulated specific long-term goals for reduction:
To Reduce the Environmental Impact of Business Practices
In an ongoing effort to reduce its environmental footprint, Maharam has achieved ISO 14001 certification for all its facilities. Further, Maharam is committed to sharing its best environmental practices within the contract textile community to foster environmental innovation.
To Reduce the Environmental Impact of Products
Maharam is committed to developing products with reduced environmental impact and to optimizing materials and substances that could be harmful to human health. Through constant assessment of product componentry and manufacturing processes, goals for reduction are established. These goals apply to the re-engineering of existing products and the development of new products.
To Provide Fact-Based Information
Maharam is opposed to "greenwashing"— the use of deliberate disinformation regarding environmental attributes of products and practices. To this end, Maharam has adopted a rigorous vocabulary articulating the environmental characteristics of its products. The term "Reduced Environmental Impact" is applied only to products with measurable, documented reductions. Detailed environmental attributes are provided for each product at maharam.com. Maharam believes that this principled approach is fundamental to enabling clients to make informed decisions regarding environmental strategies. Maharam does not make claims that could misrepresent the environmental attributes of its products.
This document describes Maharam's current environmental initiatives.
Impact of Business Practices
The framework of Maharam's efforts to reduce its corporate environmental impact is ISO 14001 certification, achieved at all North American facilities.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a Geneva based non-governmental organization established in 1947. Representing over 150 countries worldwide, ISO's objective is to promote standardized practices in the international trade of goods and services. The ISO 14001 standard focuses on environmental management.
To obtain certification, all corporate practices are carefully evaluated and measured for environmental impact. An environmental policy is defined, including concrete goals to reduce identified impacts. This environmental policy includes a commitment to compliance with environmental laws and company policies, continual improvement and prevention of pollution.
An environmental management system is created to ensure that environmental policy is implemented. An independent ISO consultant is retained to continually monitor and measure progress, and to verify that ISO standards are observed. ISO 14001 processes are audited on an annual basis and certified companies must demonstrate continual reduction of their environmental impact.
Through ISO 14001, Maharam is committed to minimizing the environmental impacts of its business practices, including, but not limited to:
Impact of Products
Maharam offers products that reduce environmental impact without compromising design, performance or affordability. Each product is assigned specific goals for reduced environmental impact during development, and attributes are listed on maharam.com.
Maharam offers products with the following reduced environmental impacts:
Rapidly Renewable Content
Natural fibers obtained from animal or plant sources such as cotton, linen, hemp, jute, wool, silk and cellulose and which can be replenished in less than ten years are considered rapidly renewable and reduce dependence on non-renewable resources. Maharam does not consider regenerated fibers such as rayon, acetate and viscose to be "natural" or rapidly renewable due to the extensive chemical processing required in manufacturing.
Post-Industrial, or Pre-Consumer recycled content, is derived from waste materials generated through manufacturing. Post-Consumer recycled content is produced from materials that have fulfilled a consumer purpose and would otherwise be disposed as waste. Yarns produced from either type of recycled content reduce the need to manufacture raw materials from virgin resources, save energy and reduce waste.
Biodegradable and Recyclable Materials
At this time, a national infrastructure to collect and process textiles at the end of their useful lives does not exist. For this reason, Maharam does not claim that any of its products are biodegradable or recyclable. Maharam supports industry initiatives to develop these facilities, but until such a system is in place, Maharam's position is to not label its products as either biodegradable or recyclable.
Environmentally Improved Finishes and Manufacturing Processes
Maharam has reduced the environmental impact of its products through the reformulation and reduction of chemical additives commonly used in contract textiles. Included are antimicrobial additives, flame retardants, and stain repellent finishes.
Antimicrobial chemicals used in topical finishes and backings contain chlorinated organic and organotin compounds which are considered to be potential endocrine disrupters that can mimic human hormones and interfere with a body's normal function. When available, Maharam has replaced these chemicals with "bio-based" technology utilizing chitosan, a non-toxic carbohydrate found in shrimp and lobster shells which has natural antimicrobial properties. Chitosan is a plentiful by-product of the fishery industry and is a rapidly renewable resource. It was first used by Patagonia in its active wear to control odor causing bacteria and can be found in all Maharam products with a generic antimicrobial stain resistant finish and impermeable backing.
Because of Maharam's commitment to providing information with measurable, documented results, Maharam does not claim that our textiles with added antimicrobial agents prevent infection. While antimicrobial additives are shown to be effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria in a laboratory setting, the review of scientific literature reveals no evidence that textiles containing antimicrobials assist in preventing infection.
Flame retardants are a class of chemicals added to furniture, electronics, and building materials intended to help prevent fires. Historically, flame retardant chemicals were made of “PBDE” (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether) or antimony trioxide both of which can impact liver and thyroid function and neurobiological development. Flame retardants have been shown to cause neurological damage, hormone disruption, and cancer. One of the biggest dangers of some flame retardants is that they bioaccumulate in humans, causing long-term chronic health problems. Firefighters are at the forefront of advocating for their disuse due to high exposure to flame retardants and resultant health problems; the number one killer of firefighters is cancer due to chemical exposure faced in the line of duty.
In 2008, Maharam invested in a major initiative to optimize several of our finishes and additives. At that time, most of our current flame retardant additives were updated to a phosphorus-based flame retardant which offers the same flame retardant properties with fewer harmful effects than halogenated or brominated flame retardants. Though that was a step in the right direction, nothing better illustrates our commitment to continual improvement, a pillar of our ISO 14001 policy, than the proactive elimination of unnecessary chemicals from our products. Over the last few years, we have successfully eliminated flame retardant chemicals in over 80% of our offering, a number which continues to increase.
Stain Repellent Finishes
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of about 5,000 man-made chemicals that include PFOA and PFOS. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940s, from cookware and food packaging to fire retardants and stain repellents. Both PFOA and PFOS are the most widely studied and have been found to be extremely persistent, bio accumulative, and have high aquatic and mammalian toxicity. Due to the extensive studies on these two chemicals, they have been mostly phased out of production.
In the last couple of years additional chemicals in this class have been studied more closely and there is mounting evidence that exposure to the entire class of PFAS chemicals can lead to adverse environmental, ecological, and human health effects. This additional research in combination with public health crises have brought the chemical class into greater focus. As a result, many domestic and global municipalities are beginning to place regulations on the entire chemical class.
Years ago, our stain repellent finishes were reformulated to exclude PFOA and for the last decade we’ve clearly noted these finishes as PFOA-Free. Making that distinction was important when initiated but because the substituted chemicals still utilize PFAS-based chemicals it’s important to further clarify that a growing number of the finishes we employ do not include PFAS chemicals. Our finish terminology has been updated accordingly.
Environmentally Improved Manufacturing Processes
Environmentally improved manufacturing processes result in reduced environmental impacts when compared to typical manufacturing processes for similar products. Examples of environmentally improved manufacturing processes are solution-dyeing and production free of heavy metals and phthalates.
On August 22, 2012 the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its adoption of final rules relating to "conflict minerals" under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Conflict Minerals Rules"). Maharam is committed to operating in a socially responsible manner and it is a matter of corporate policy to refrain from purchasing Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Conflict Minerals directly or indirectly.
California Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, is a law requiring businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase for their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals. Chemicals included on the Proposition 65 list are those that are known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. New and existing chemicals are in constant evaluation for future inclusion in the list.
Maharam has worked closely with our resources to determine which products do or do not contain chemicals on the Prop 65 list and are in compliance with the law due to the addition of a disclaimer that can be viewed on applicable website product pages and order acknowledgements shipping to the state of California.
Fact-Based Information and Transparency
Maharam's commitment to providing fact-based information and measurable, documented results means that when analyzing product componentry, the highest value is placed on third-party certification. Third-party certification provides independent validation and verification of textile componentry and, due to the complexities of the textile supply chain, third-party certification ensures that all components of a textile are assessed and accounted for accurately.
Cradle to Cradle Certification
Cradle to Cradle™ product certification is a third-party multi-attribute certification standard that evaluates products based on five certification criteria: material health, material reutilization, assessment of energy required for production, water, and social responsibility. The certification is available at several levels: basic, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Maharam currently has a handful of textiles that are Cradle to Cradle Certified at various levels.
EU Ecolabel Certification
Life cycle analysis is a detailed process that evaluates the environmental impact of a textile at each stage of its life cycle. The EU Ecolabel, independently verified and endorsed by the European Commission, is awarded to products that have undergone a rigorous life cycle analysis and meet specific ecological criteria. Maharam currently has a handful of textiles that are Ecolabel Certified.
NSF/ANSI 336, or Facts® is an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard that assesses the level of the sustainability of commercial furnishings fabrics developed by NSF International in collaboration with ACT (The Association for Contract Textiles) and is modeled after other multi-attribute sustainability standards such as BIFMA's (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association) Level certification. Facts is a voluntary set of guidelines and assesses a range of environmental issues specific to textile manufacturing practices including: fiber sourcing, safety of materials, water conservation and water quality, energy, recycling practices, air quality in manufacturing, and social accountability.
Organizations may achieve first-party, second-party, or third-party conformance and textiles may achieve Compliant, Silver, Gold or Platinum certification status based on total points achieved. Textiles that have achieved third-party conformance, are also known as Facts Certified. Maharam currently has a selection of textiles that are Facts certified at various levels , with products being continually added to this offering.
Forest Stewardship Council Certification
The Forest Stewardship Council certifies that wood-based materials and products are harvested in accordance with strict criteria. All sources are screened to ensure sustainable harvesting methods devoid of the five most destructive forestry practices: illegal logging, natural forest conversion to other land uses, the liquidation of high conservation value forests, civil rights violations, and genetic modification of forest species. Maharam currently has a handful of textiles that utilize FSC Certified sources.
Greenguard and Greenguard Gold Certification
Building products and materials can emit chemicals and particles into the air that may negatively impact human health. Greenguard® certification verifies that chemical and particle emissions fall within acceptable indoor air quality pollutant thresholds. Products are tested for emissions of formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), respirable particles, ozone, and other pollutants using environmental chamber protocols designed to simulate typical indoor environments. Maximum allowable emission levels are defined by the State of Washington's indoor air quality program for new construction, the US Environmental Protection Agency's procurements specifications, the recommendations from the World Health Organization, Germany's Blue Angel Program for electronic equipment, LEED 2009 for New Construction and LEED 2009 for Commercial Interiors.
Greenguard Gold® certification is a separate program tailored to the needs of children who have a greater sensitivity to indoor air quality. Greenguard Gold sets lower thresholds on allowable emissions by a factor of 0.43 to account for the needs of educational environments. Greenguard Gold certified textiles comply with CA Section 01350 requirements for schools and are accepted for Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Low-Emitting Materials credits.
Health Product Declarations/Environmental Product Declarations
Due to the complexities of the textile supply chain, Maharam's commitment to fact-based information, and the value Maharam places on independent third-party certification and verification, Health Product Declarations (HPD's) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD's) are not viewed as a realistic and viable means of reporting product componentry. Maharam fully supports material transparency but places the highest value on product componentry that has been independently verified by third-party certifying bodies and is reassessed on a reoccurring basis to ensure material consistency.
Oeko-Tex® is a European toxicity test that evaluates textiles for the presence of a broad array of harmful substances that may cause potential health impacts through direct skin contact. Four classes of certification are granted to textiles that meet or fall below specified limits for a broad array of chemicals.
Class I textiles are the least harmful and are approved for children up to two years old under any exposure condition.
Class II textiles are approved for textile applications in which adult skin is exposed to large surface areas of the textile.
Class III textiles are approved textile applications in which adult skin is exposed to small surface areas.
Class IV textiles are approved for furnishings.
REACH is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use. The aim of REACH is to improve human health by requiring manufacturers to gather information on the properties of their chemical substances, register the information in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency, and substitute Substances of Very High Concern when suitable alternatives have been identified.
Several of Maharam's resources have fulfilled their obligations according to REACH and have confirmed they have made the necessary pre-registrations for the chemicals requiring registration.