Sustainable Materials Guidelines

Version: 2.0; Status: Final; Current version effective January 2024

Table of Contents

  1. 1 Commitment and Approach
  2. 2 Laws and Regulations
  3. 3 Summary of Guidelines
  4. 4 Minimum Requirements & Preferred Sourcing Guidelines
    1. 4.1 Wood & Forest Derived Materials
    2. 4.2 Textile Fibers & Materials
      1. 4.2.1 Synthetic Fibers
      2. 4.2.2 Natural Fibers & Materials: Animal-Based (leather)
      3. 4.2.3 Natural Fibers & Materials: Animal-Based (non-leather)
      4. 4.2.4 Natural Fibers: Plant-Based
      5. 4.2.5 Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers (MMCF)
    3. 4.3 Foam Materials
    4. 4.4 Plastic Materials
    5. 4.5 Steel Overview
    6. 4.6 Chemical Management
  5. 5 Closing

1 Commitment and Approach

Our Commitment

Room & Board is committed to sustainably designing and sourcing products through improved materials and practices. Sustainability is a thread woven through everything we do, from how we make our furniture to how we operate our business. Our goal is to be a sustainability leader that positively impacts society and the world. Using more sustainable products is a key part of our efforts.

Our Approach

Room & Board’s aim is for key raw materials to be ethically and sustainably sourced. Therefore, we work closely with our vendor partners on materials, finishes and manufacturing processes that enable a fair and sustainable system for people and planet. We aspire to raise standards and influence our industry and work with vendor partners who align with our ethical values and standards.

Our Sustainable Materials Guidelines are applicable to all our vendor partners that manufacture products for Room & Board and complement our Vendor Code of Conduct and other sustainable guidelines and polices. The Sustainable Materials Guidelines will be reviewed on a regular basis to incorporate updates. We are focused on continuous improvement, and we expect our vendor partners to demonstrate clear progress. Room & Board vendor partners are expected to take necessary corrective actions to promptly remediate any noncompliance. Room & Board reserves the right to terminate its business relationship with any vendor partners who are unwilling and/or unable to comply with the minimum requirements of the Sustainable Materials Guidelines.

2 Laws and Regulations

Vendor partners must operate in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations of the states and countries in which they operate. Protection of the environment, nature, and planet is core to Room & Board’s business practices and philosophies. At a minimum, Room & Board vendor partners must comply with all applicable environmental laws, regulations, and standards, such as requirements regarding chemical waste management and disposal, recycling, industrial wastewater treatment and discharge, air emissions controls, environmental permits, and environmental reporting. Room & Board also encourages each vendor partner to find and implement additional improvements to reduce carbon footprint and their overall impact on our environment.

3 Summary of Guidelines

The following table summarizes the minimum requirements for vendor partners as well as guidance for continuous improvement towards preferred materials and sourcing practices.

Topic
Minimum Requirements
Preferred
Wood & Forest Derived MaterialsPreferred materials:
  • Sustainably sourced wood
  • All products must meet Room & Board’s Sustainable Wood Sourcing Policy by 2025.
  • All products must comply with the US Lacey Act which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.
  • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • We encourage wood to be harvested and manufactured in the USA.
  • We encourage wood that is reclaimed or recycled.
  • We encourage wood with 3rd party certification such as FSC, SFI, PEFC or AHMI.
Synthetic FibersPreferred materials:
  • Recycled polyester
  • rPET
  • Review current assortment and explore potential options to increase recycled or renewable material content.
  • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • We encourage shifting to more recycled and renewable content.
  • We encourage the use of renewable resources in replacement of fossil fuels.
Natural Fibers & Materials: Animal Based (leather)
  • All vendor partners must adhere to Room & Board’s Animal Welfare Policy.
  • A third-party responsible leather certification must be completed by direct vendor partners (e.g., Leather Working Group (LWG)).
  • Effective in 2024, only leather or skin from animals born in the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom may be used in products.
  • We encourage vendor partners to demonstrate progress towards creating traceability in the supply chain back to the slaughterhouse.
  • We encourage our vendor partners to require their suppliers – e.g., finishing tanneries and wet blue tanneries, as applicable – maintain environmental and human rights certifications and audits.
  • We encourage movement towards organic tanning methods (e.g., olive tanning).
Natural Fibers & Materials: Animal Based (non-leather)Preferred materials:
  • Recycled wool
  • Recycled alpaca
  • All vendor partners must adhere to Room & Board’s Animal Welfare Policy.
  • A third-party certification for animal welfare must be completed by vendor partners (e.g., Responsible Down Standard, Responsible Wool Standard, Responsible Alpaca Standard, etc.).
  • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • We encourage full traceability across all animal-derived products.
  • We encourage vendor partners to source certified, organic, recycled, or otherwise sustainably sourced animal-derived fibers.
  • We encourage animal-based fibers born and raised in the USA.
Natural Fibers: Plant-BasedPreferred materials:
  • Sustainably sourced cotton
  • Organic cotton
  • Recycled cotton
  • Linen
  • No sourcing cotton from countries at elevated risk of forced labor issues such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Xinjiang.
  • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • All products must comply with the US Lacey Act which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.
  • We encourage vendor partners to seek more sustainably sourced cotton (e.g., better cotton initiative, organic cotton, recycled cotton or equivalent).
  • We encourage plant-based fibers grown in the USA.
MMCF (Man Made Cellulosic Fiber)Preferred materials:
  • Lyocell
  • Bamboo
  • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • We encourage the use of more readily renewable resources such as but not limited to bamboo, eucalyptus, and hemp.
  • We encourage MMCF fibers grown and manufactured in the USA.
Foam MaterialsPreferred materials:
  • Certified foam
  • Must meet flammability regulations such as California SB 1019.
  • No added flame retardants.
  • All foam must use CertiPUR-US or CertiPUR certified foam or equivalent certification at the product or material level for low emitting VOCs.
 
Plastic MaterialsPreferred materials:
  • Recycled plastic
  • Review current assortment and explore potential options to increase recycled or renewable material content.
  • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment) in that case.
  • We encourage shifting to more recycled and renewable content.
  • We encourage the use of renewable resources in replacement of fossil fuels.
  • We encourage circularity and recyclable options for plastic material and components.
Chemical ManagementPreferred materials:
  • Certified materials
  • Vendor partners must disclose materials and/or chemicals in Room & Board products that require disclosure in accordance with the Proposition 65 California regulation.
  • Flame Retardants
    • All products must meet flammability regulations such as SOFFA and CA TB 117-2013.
    • No added chemical flame-retardants.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - includes formaldehyde
    • All products must meet indoor air health quality regulations such as CARB Phase 2 / TSCA VI compliant.
    • No added formaldehyde chemicals.
  • Fluorinated Substances - includes PFAS, PFOA, PFOS and PSFs
    • No added fluorinated substances.
    • No added finishes to upholstery fabrics.
  • Antimicrobials - including triclosan and triclocarban
    • No added antimicrobials.
  • Vinyl and PVC – includes phthalates
    • No added phthalates.
Note: we are actively working on the minimum requirements that go beyond regulations.
  • We encourage full material and/or chemical composition disclosure through automated system(s) (e.g., Toxnot) to increase transparency, efficiency and accuracy.
  • We encourage low-VOC (volatile organic compound) certifications (e.g., GREENGUARD, etc.).
  • We encourage water-based finishes on wood surfaces.
  • We encourage water-based adhesives and glues.

4 Minimum Requirements and Preferred Sourcing Guidelines

4.1 Wood & Forest Derived Materials

  • Overview: Room & Board aims to be a leader in sustainable wood sourcing and to protect the world’s forests. Wood is the most widely used material in our products, and we are committed to responsibly and sustainably sourcing this natural resource. Wood that meets our sustainable wood sourcing policy is considered a preferred material along with reclaimed, recycled and certified wood.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • By 2025, all products must meet Room & Board’s Sustainable Wood Sourcing Policy. We work with our manufacturing partners to avoid wood from sources we consider unacceptable, including:
      • Illegally harvested or traded timber,
      • Timber harvested in violation of traditional or civil rights,
      • Timber harvested from areas in which conservation values are threatened by poor forest management,
      • Timber harvested from areas being converted from forest to agricultural land or non-forest,
      • Timber harvested from forests in which genetically modified trees are planted.
    • All products must comply with the US Lacey Act which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.
    • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment)
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage wood to be harvested and manufactured in the USA.
    • We encourage wood that is reclaimed or recycled.
    • We encourage wood with 3rd party certification such as FSC, SFI, PEFC or AHMI.

4.2 Textile Fibers & Materials

We aim for all textiles to be sustainably sourced from preferred materials, such as recycled and renewable fibers. We classify more sustainable products as being made with a minimum of 20% preferred materials. A preferred material is a fiber that “results in improved environmental and/or social sustainability outcomes and impacts in comparison to conventional production.” (Textile Exchange) These fibers can consist of, but are not limited to, recycled polyester, recycled polypropylene (rPET), or renewable fibers such as organic cotton, linen, and lyocell. The foregoing is the minimum content a product sold at Room & Board must contain to be considered more sustainable.

4.2.1 Synthetic Fibers

  • Overview: The synthetic materials we most commonly use in our products include polyester, recycled polyester, polypropylene, acrylic, and olefin, and provide essential performance properties. However, synthetic fibers are derived from nonrenewable, petroleum-based sources. Due to that, these fibers can have a negative effect on the environment. These fibers consist of chemicals, high carbon footprints, land degradation, and they are not biodegradable. The washing of synthetic fibers also contributes to the microplastic pollution in water. To address these challenges, we are taking steps to source more sustainable and non-petroleum based synthetic fibers. Preferred materials for synthetic fibers include recycled polyester and recycled polypropylene (rPET).
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • Review current assortment and explore potential options to increase recycled or renewable material content.
    • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage shifting to more recycled and renewable content.
    • We encourage the use of renewable resources in replacement of fossil fuels.

4.2.2 Natural Fibers & Materials: Animal-Based (leather)

  • Overview: Leather is a durable, high-quality material used across many furniture categories. However, depending on the source, leather may carry business risks related to deforestation, animal welfare, human rights risks, and chemically intensive processes. Room & Board is committed to mitigating these risks by increasing supply chain transparency and supporting responsible leather production.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • All vendor partners must adhere to Room & Board’s Animal Welfare Policy which includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:
      • Animal derived materials may only be sourced from farms as a by-product of the food industry.
      • No materials or products from endangered or vulnerable species.
      • The species type and country of origin must be provided upon request by Room & Board.
      • Animal derived materials may only be sourced from farms where the Five Freedoms have been implemented.
    • A third-party responsible leather certification must be completed by direct vendor partners (e.g., Leather Working Group (LWG))
    • Effective in 2024, only leather or skin from animals born in the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom may be used in products.
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage vendor partners to demonstrate progress towards creating traceability in the supply chain back to the slaughterhouse.
    • We encourage our vendor partners to require their suppliers – e.g., finishing tanneries and wet blue tanneries, as applicable – maintain environmental and human rights certifications and audits (e.g., LWG).
    • We encourage movement towards organic tanning methods (e.g., olive tanning).

4.2.3 Natural Fibers & Materials: Animal-Based (non-leather)

  • Overview: Room & Board is committed to good animal welfare, and we expect that the highest standards of animal welfare will be upheld throughout our supply chain. Animal fibers such as wool, feathers, down and alpaca are most commonly used in our products. When using any animal-based fiber there is always a concern for the safety and care of the animals within the supply chain. Preferred materials for animal-based fibers are recycled wool and recycled alpaca.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • All vendor partners must adhere to Room & Board’s Animal Welfare Policy which includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:
      • Animal derived materials may only be sourced from farms as a by-product of the food industry.
      • No materials or products from endangered or vulnerable species.
      • The species type and country of origin must be provided upon request by Room & Board.
      • Animal derived materials may only be sourced from farms where the Five Freedoms have been implemented.
    • A third-party certification for animal welfare must be completed by vendor partners (e.g., Responsible Down Standard, Responsible Wool Standard, Responsible Alpaca Standard, etc.).
    • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage full traceability across all animal-derived products.
    • We encourage vendor partners to source certified, organic, recycled, or otherwise sustainably sourced animal-derived fibers.
    • We encourage animal-based materials born and raised in the USA.

4.2.4 Natural Fibers: Plant-Based

  • Overview:The two most used plant-based fibers in Room & Board’s collection are cotton and linen. Cotton is a resource-intensive crop that requires substantial amounts of water, land, and fertilizers to grow efficiently. Cotton is also known to have human rights risks due to how high in demand and labor intensive it is. Linen on the other hand is made from the hemp plant, which is also considered a labor-intensive crop, but hemp requires much fewer resources to grow efficiently. The preferred materials for natural fibers are sustainably sourced cotton, organic cotton, recycled cotton, and linen.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • No sourcing cotton from countries at elevated risk of forced labor issues such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Xinjiang.
    • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
    • All products must comply with the US Lacey Act which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage vendor partners to seek more sustainably sourced cotton (e.g., better cotton initiative, organic cotton, recycled cotton or equivalent).
    • We encourage plant-based fibers grown in the USA.

4.2.5 MMCF (Man-Made Cellulosic Fiber) Fibers

  • Overview: Man-made cellulosic fibers such as viscose/rayon, modal, and lyocell are made from wood pulp and turned into semi-synthetic fiber through a chemical process. This chemical process uses lots of water, harsh chemicals, and an abundance of energy. Preferred materials for MMCF fibers include lyocell and bamboo.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment).
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage the use of more readily renewable resources such as but not limited to bamboo, eucalyptus, and hemp.
    • We encourage MMCF fibers grown and manufactured in the USA.

4.3 Foam Materials

  • Overview: Foam is used for cushioning across mattresses, chairs, and upholstered products. Many foams are made with fossil fuels and use high amounts of energy to produce. Fire safety regulations also require products to pass flammability requirements. Room & Board does not allow added flame-retardant chemicals.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • Must meet flammability regulations (e.g., California SB 1019).
    • No added chemical flame retardants.
    • All foam must use CertiPUR-US or CertiPUR certified foam or have an equivalent certification at the product or material level for low emitting VOCs.

4.4 Plastic Materials

  • Overview: Plastic is a material widely used in our products. Conventional plastic is a nonrenewable resource that cannot biodegrade but can be recycled. To address these challenges, we aim to increase our recycled content. Preferred materials include plastic with a minimum of 30% recycled content.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • Review current assortment and explore potential options to increase recycled or renewable material content.
    • A third-party audit for human rights must be completed by vendor partners if they source materials outside of the USA, Canada, European Union or United Kingdom (e.g., SMETA, SA 8000, Human Rights Risk Assessment)
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage shifting to more recycled and renewable content.
    • We encourage the use of renewable resources in replacement of fossil fuels.
    • We encourage circularity and recyclable options for plastic material and components.

4.5 Steel Overview

  • Overview: Steel is a durable, high-quality material used across many furniture categories. Steel is recyclable and most steel used is made from 90% or more recycled content. However, the steel manufacturing process has multiple negative impacts to the environment. We aim to use this material responsibly by minimizing waste in the manufacturing process and creating a high-quality finished product with a long lifecycle.

4.6 Chemical Management

  • Overview: Chemical management is a dynamic and ever-evolving topic and is important to Room & Board and our customers. Chemicals of concern can impact customers, our manufacturing partners, and the environment. Therefore, we partner with vendors and engage in industry dialogue through organizations like Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) to both monitor regulations and proactively remove chemicals of concern, where possible. We also aim to increase transparency of product information. Note: we are actively working on the minimum requirements that go beyond regulations.
  • Minimum Requirements:
    • Vendor partners must disclose materials and/or chemicals in Room & Board products that require disclosure in accordance with the Proposition 65 California regulation.
    • Flame Retardants
      • All products must meet flammability regulations (e.g., SOFFA and CA TB 117-2013)
      • No added flame-retardant chemicals
    • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - includes formaldehyde
      • All products must meet indoor air health quality regulations such as CARB Phase 2 / TSCA VI compliant
      • No added formaldehyde chemicals
    • Fluorinated Substances - includes PFAS, PFOA, PFOS and PSFs
      • No added fluorinated substances
      • No added finishes to upholstery fabrics
    • Antimicrobials - includes triclosan and triclocarban
      • No added antimicrobials
    • Vinyl and PVC - includes phthalates
      • No added phthalates
  • Preferred:
    • We encourage full material and/or chemical composition disclosure through automated system(s) (e.g., Toxnot) to increase transparency, efficiency and accuracy.
    • We encourage low-VOC certifications (e.g., GREENGUARD, SCS Indoor Advantage, etc.).
    • We encourage water-based finishes on wood surfaces.
    • We encourage water-based adhesives and glues.

5 Closing

We appreciate and thank our vendors for their partnership. These Sustainable Material Guidelines are intended to share expectations and give guidance for continuous improvement to our vendor partners. If vendor partners have additional questions, they can reach out to their primary Room & Board contact.