Maharam is committed to employing processes and developing products with reduced environmental impact as a matter of corporate and design philosophy. Continual assessment of our product content and manufacturing processes guides our approach to re-engineering existing products and developing new products to reduce our carbon consumption, use of virgin materials, and use of materials and substances harmful to human and environmental health without compromising aesthetics and performance.

The framework of our environmental efforts is our ISO 14001 certification, which we have held at all North American facilities for over 20 years. Our ISO certification goals govern our business practices and are foundational to our environmental efforts.

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, Maharam defines an environmental policy with concrete goals to reduce our impact and is regularly audited by ISO for compliance and progress. This environmental policy includes a commitment to complying with environmental laws and company policies, continual improvement, and preventing pollution.

Fact-Based Information
Maharam is opposed to “greenwashing” — the use of disinformation regarding environmental attributes of products and practices, and we do not make claims that might misrepresent the environmental attributes of our products. Recognizing that all our practices and products have an impact on the environment, we use the term “reduced environmental impact” to describe products with measurable, documented reductions. We believe this approach best supports our clients in making informed decisions regarding environmental impact.

We do not claim that any of our textiles are recyclable, as a national infrastructure to collect and process textiles at the end of their useful lives does not yet exist. Maharam supports industry initiatives to develop broad-sweeping infrastructure changes that would permit textile recycling. Until then, Maharam mitigates our waste production by sending any excess textiles to local recycling facilities when possible. Since 2020, we have partnered with Recircled, an organization that reuses textiles in alternate industrial applications, which has diverted over 400,000 pounds of our textiles from landfill.

Additionally, our sample return program aims to reduce waste from textile sampling. Since introducing the program in 2002, we have reused an average of over 100,000 textile memos annually.

Product Composition
Rapidly Degradable Polyester
Rapidly degradable polyester has a biopolymer catalyst added to the molecular composition of the yarn that enables textiles woven with the yarns to degrade at a rate comparable to natural wool in suitable conditions. In anaerobic environments—humid environments without oxygen and light such as landfills, soil, and mud common at the end of products’ useful lives—microbes feed on the catalyst in the yarns, breaking down the material into the same remnants as organic waste in three to five years.

We avoid using the term “biodegradable” for this material, as degradation processes in real world conditions may differ from the controlled lab settings of degradation testing. Since most polyesters have a lengthy degradation period (from hundreds of years to never), we use the term “rapidly degradable” to refer to this particular polyester yarn that has been engineered to degrade in specific environments.

Rapidly Renewable Content
Fibers obtained from animal or plant sources such as cotton, linen, hemp, jute, wool, silk, and cellulose that can be replenished in fewer than ten years are considered rapidly renewable. Since 2020, we have prioritized designing with rapidly renewable fibers: as of May 2023, over 70% of our offering incorporated rapidly renewable content, and we continue to increase this percentage. New products that include rapidly renewable materials are designed to comprise at least 75% rapidly renewable content.

Recycled Content
Post-industrial 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 of as waste. Yarns produced from either type of recycled content reduce the need to manufacture raw materials from virgin resources, which saves energy and reduces waste, particularly for fossil fuel-based materials like polyester. As fiber recycling broadens to include materials other than polyester, we have incorporated recycled rapidly renewable content whenever possible, such as wool and cotton from recycled from donated garments. New products that include recycled materials are designed to comprise at least 75% recycled content.

Our animal rights policy requires that all our leather is sourced from deforestation-free areas. Though deforestation is more prevalent in Central America, deforestation can occur in many regions around the globe.

Rather than work with large-scale, industrial tanneries, which provide much of the commercial leathers in our industry, we work with small boutique tanneries selected for their ability to produce the best of each specific quality and require minimal finishing. Most Maharam leathers are sourced in Northern Italy, except for a couple suedes that are from Spain. Among the oldest leather producers in the world, these resources employ carefully honed specialties and closely guarded techniques passed down over generations.

We only work with tanneries where the strict regulation of and respect for animal welfare ensures humane cattle and optimal veterinary practices, including the absence of branding, stable and mild climates, and allowing animals to graze in open fields without barbed-wire fencing. Western European tanneries are also noted for the absence of grain feeding (an unnatural diet for cattle but often provided to mitigate methane emission) and growth hormones, which can negatively impact hide quality.

Chemical Reduction
We continue to prioritize the introduction and reformulation of textiles that eschew chemical additives commonly used in contract textiles. These include antimicrobial additives, flame retardants, phthalates, Prop 65 chemicals, and PFAS.

Antimicrobial Additives
Antimicrobial chemicals used in topical finishes and backings contain chlorinated organic and organotin compounds, which are considered potential endocrine disruptors—chemicals that mimic human hormones and interfere with a body’s normal function. While antimicrobial additives are shown to be effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria in a laboratory setting, reviewing scientific literature reveals no evidence that textiles in the field containing antimicrobials assist in preventing infection. Consequently, Maharam has removed antimicrobial chemicals from our textiles.

Flame Retardant Chemicals
Flame retardant (FR) chemicals are a class of chemicals added to furniture, electronics, and building materials intended to help prevent fires. Historically, FRs were made of PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ether) or antimony trioxide, both of which can impact liver and thyroid function and neurobiological development. Prolonged exposure to FRs has been shown to cause neurological damage, hormone disruption, and cancer. One of the biggest dangers of FRs 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 FRs and resultant health problems, including being the leading cause of firefighter mortalities.

In 2008, our FR additives were updated to our current phosphorus-based FR, which offers the same FR properties with fewer harmful effects than halogenated or brominated FR. Since 2014, we have successfully eliminated FR chemicals in all upholstery textiles and minimized their use in textiles where flammability codes require them, such as privacy curtains, some wallcoverings, and window coverings.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of about 18,000 man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940s, from cookware and food packaging to fire retardants and stain repellents. PFOA and PFOS are the most widely studied of the PFAS class and have been found to be extremely persistent, bio-accumulative, and to 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 US.

In the last few years, additional chemicals in this class have been studied more closely, and there is mounting evidence that exposure to any chemical in the PFAS class can lead to adverse environmental, ecological, and human health effects. Recent public health crises, such as contaminated drinking water and the presence of PFAS in rainwater, have brought the chemical class under greater scrutiny. As a result, many domestic and global municipalities are beginning to place regulations on the entire chemical class.

As with other chemical additives, Maharam has undertaken a fact-based, comprehensive approach to researching and removing PFAS from our textiles. Internal side-by-side evaluations begun in 2013 demonstrated that textiles without PFAS finishes offered comparable cleanability to those with PFAS finishes. In 2017 we also partnered with Harvard University to evaluate the efficacy of PFAS in several spaces on Harvard’s campus, which corroborated the results from our internal studies. That same year, our first textiles designed for stain-repellent performance without a PFAS-based finish were introduced. In 2020, Betsy Phillips, director of strategic and environmental initiatives, co-authored a study with the Green Science Policy Institute that found finishes with PFAS afforded negligible stain repellence benefits; fiber composition and weave structure were larger contributors to performance. The peer-reviewed study was published in the AATCC Journal of Research in April 2023.

Our years of research have resulted in all products introduced since June 2021 being free of intentionally added PFAS.

Phthalates are a class of chemicals typically added to vinyl wallcovering and upholstery textiles to add pliability. They are considered pseudo-persistent endocrine disruptors and have been shown to have adverse effects on development of the reproductive system in male laboratory animals. Due to their proven harmful effects, several phthalates have been restricted both in the US and the EU and many phthalates are present on California’s Proposition 65 list.

We began redesigning our nonwoven wallcoverings and upholsteries in 2015 to eschew phthalates and have eliminated them from nearly all nonwoven products.

Proposition 65
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. Detailed information available on our website provides the requisite information for each product, and additional acknowledgements in compliance with Proposition 65 are included in all orders. As chemicals continue to be added to the Proposition 65 list, we continue to evaluate the composition of our textiles, redesigning to remove Proposition 65 chemicals when possible and providing appropriate warnings when not.

Product Declarations and Certifications
Maharam’s commitment to providing fact-based information and measurable, documented results means that we place the highest value on third-party certification when analyzing product composition. Third-party certification provides independent validation and verification and ensures that all components of a textile throughout the supply chain are assessed and accounted for accurately. Maharam currently has a selection of textiles with a variety of each certification below with new products regularly achieving certifications. Please consult for the most up-to-date information on products available with each certification.

Health Product Declarations
Health Product Declarations (HPDs) are typically first-party disclosures (though they can be third-party verified) detailing a product’s constituents. Several of Maharam’s resources have completed Health Product Declarations for our textiles that are available on request. We do not view HPDs as meaningful or accurate measure of product componentry to clients because independent third-party verification is not mandated. Instead, we place the highest value on product declarations and certifications that require independent verification by third-party certifying bodies and are repeatedly reassessed, such as the certifications detailed below.

Environmental Product Declarations
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are third-party verified, documented results of a particular lifecycle analysis methodology of products. While a few of our resources have recently begun developing EPDs, Maharam is partnering with industry counterparts to create EPDs that will more accurately evaluate the environmental impact of textiles than EPDs with generalized data.

Cradle to Cradle Certification
Cradle to Cradle™ product certification is a third-party multi-attribute certification lifecycle analysis 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.

EU Ecolabel Certification
Lifecycle analysis is a detailed process that evaluates the environmental impact of a textile from manufacture to disposal. The EU Ecolabel, independently verified and endorsed by the European Commission, is awarded to products that have undergone a rigorous lifecycle analysis and meet specific ecological criteria. We are working with our resources to develop products that can be Ecolabel Certified.

Facts Certification
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.

Forest Stewardship Council Certification
The Forest Stewardship Council certifies that wood-based materials and products are harvested in accordance with strict environmental 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, liquidation of high conservation value forests, civil rights violations, and genetic modification of forest species.

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.

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 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.

Greenscreen Certification
Greenscreen is a third-party product certification that independently verifies the exclusion of several chemical groups including PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances). It is the first and only certification to evaluate and verify the omission of all PFAS.

Maharam was the first in the industry to design textiles that achieved Greenscreen Certification, and we continue to introduce Greenscreen-certified constructions.

Global Recycled Standard Certified Content
The GRS is an international, voluntary, full product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions. The GRS is intended to meet the needs of companies looking to verify the recycled content of their products (both finished and intermediate) and to verify responsible social, environmental, and chemical practices in their production. The objectives of the GRS are to define requirements to ensure accurate content claims and good working conditions, and that harmful environmental and chemical impacts are minimized. This includes companies in ginning, spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing, and stitching in more than fifty countries.

Oeko-Tex Certification
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.

Maharam’s resources have fulfilled their obligations according to REACH and have confirmed they have made the required pre-registrations for the relevant chemicals.

Social Impact
Maharam considers understanding and improving the social impact of our business practices, including advocating for animal and human rights, to be part of our commitment to reducing our environmental impact.

Animal Rights

Five Freedoms
We require that all animals we source material from are treated with utmost respect and care. Our animal-based fiber suppliers and tanneries must abide by the five core principles of animal welfare, known as the Five Freedoms:

1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a healthy diet.
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an environment conducive to comfort including shelter and a relaxed resting area.
3. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by providing rapid diagnosis for illness and expedient treatment.
4. Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind.
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring the conditions and treatment that help avoid mental suffering.

Fiber Sourcing
Our wool is sourced from the US, the UK, New Zealand, South America, and Australia, and all our wool resources have confirmed that the wool we source comes from non-mulesed sheep. Mulesing is a common practice in sheep rearing in which wool and skin are cut around the tail of the sheep to avoid flystrike.

Responsible Fiber Certifications
Many of our resources also have traceability measures in place to ensure that the animal-based fibers we source adhere to the rules set forth by the suite of certifications developed by the Textile Exchange. These include the Responsible Wool Standard, the Responsible Mohair Standard, the Responsible Down Standard, and Responsible Alpaca Standard. These standards reflect a selection of practices and corresponding third-party certification that governs animal welfare, certifies animal-based fiber production made in farms that respect animal rights, and ensures supply chain compliance.

Leather Working Group Certification
Equally important to an established baseline set of principles is independent validation and verification throughout the leather supply chain. For this, a third-party certification was established by the Leather Working Group. The Leather Working Group Certification, applicable for rawhide suppliers to finished leather suppliers and everyone in between, is designed to provide transparency and accountability within the leather supply chain.

The standard was updated in 2021 and now covers all elements of responsible leather manufacturing including environmental management, traceability, chemical management, social responsibility, and governance. Independent audits typically take place on site usually over two days and the certification is valid for two years. Suppliers can achieve bronze, silver, or gold level certification based on their adherence to the standard. All tanneries Maharam currently works with are either certified or are in the process of achieving certification.

Human Rights
Maharam’s commitment to reducing environmental impact includes protecting human rights of each contributor throughout design and production processes, as underserved communities around the world disproportionately experience the impacts of climate change.

Working with a global supply chain allows us to support local economies through employment and investment in local natural resources. We prioritize business relationships and production methods that support long-term, sustainable investment in these areas along with projects that protect local environments and natural resources.

Carbon Offsetting
Through our shipping partner UPS, we purchase offsets proportional to the impact of shipping products and samples, to fund projects aiming to protect and preserve environments around the world. Many studies indicate that carbon offsets and carbon neutrality are not immediate, permanent solutions to alleviating the social, political, and environmental consequences of climate change and will require many decades of investment and monitoring to meet projected results of carbon capture and removal. Consequently, Maharam continues to find and implement other ways to reduce our overall environmental impact.

Verified by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) and Climate Impact Partners, UPS’s carbon offset program includes funding for the Acre Amazon Rainforest Conservation in Brazil; Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierre Leone; wind power infrastructure in China, India, Nicaragua, and Turkey; and natural gas infrastructure in Bangladesh (as of fall 2023).

Conflict Minerals
In 2012, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted rules relating to “conflict minerals” under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Conflict Minerals Rules”). Since then, Maharam has refrained from purchasing Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Conflict Minerals directly or indirectly.