Corporate Social Responsibility

Company Capabilities & Corporate Social Responsibility Overview 2020

Silver: A Versatile Naturally Occurring Element

At the heart of Noble’s technologies is silver, a naturally occurring element. We are committed to the use of silver and silver ions because the functional qualities of silver support superior performance and sustainability.

Pure silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, has the lowest contact resistance[i], and is naturally antimicrobial. Even ancient civilizations knew of silver’s health benefits (what we now recognize as bactericidal properties[ii]) and silver has been used as a preservative for millennia. At Noble, we harness the functional powers of silver in several novel ways.

At the molecular level, in the presence of a catalyst, such as moisture or heat, silver becomes available as silver ions (Ag+), which, at very low concentrations, can act as a powerful antimicrobial agent. When integrated into fibers and fabrics through Noble’s proprietary manufacturing processes, silver can be a highly effective, skin-safe, and permanent solution. For performance apparel, this helps to eliminate unwanted odors and impact the long-term performance of these apparel products. In advanced wound care applications, silver can help prepare the wound for closure by managing the microbial contamination at the wound site. In healthcare soft surfaces, it can help promote a safer environment by permanently inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi and minimizing bacterial cross-contamination.

Because of silver’s high conductivity, it is also ideal for use in the rapidly growing wearable technology industry. In such applications, the silver yarn or fabric facilitates signal transmission from the body through the garment to biometric monitoring devices.

In industrial, automotive, aerospace, military, and electronics industries, our silver yarns and fabrics are highly effective at conducting electricity, dissipating static, and providing EMI shielding in applications where data transmission networks, electronics, and soldiers require protection from interference or interception. It is safe and cost-effective solution using a naturally occurring element. The technology can be used as both a sensor and a conductive pathway.


Sustainability

Noble’s commitment to sustainability is firmly grounded in its core values and supported by its technologies, facilities, and operations. Noble strives to be best in regulation and certification to ensure compliance to the highest standards. In addition, several benefits of the technology make products with it more sustainable.

Sustainable Benefits of Our Technology

  • Garments using Noble’s antimicrobial technology inhibit odor-causing bacterial growth so they can be laundered less frequently. Less laundering means less energy and water usage which results in longer product life.
  • X-STATIC® & Ionic+™ technologies are inherent, meaning their functionality is permanently bound to the yarn and fabrics, ensuring the value will hold for the life of the garments so fewer garments have to be purchased.
  • Anti-odor technology can allow for greater flexibility in the use of an individual garment, meaning fewer items are needed. This can make travel easier and reduce energy use as less items are transported.
  • Noble’s technologies are based on the power of silver – basic elemental silver – not synthetic chemicals or nanotechnology. Noble’s products can be made with recycled polymers if desired.
  • Because CIRCUITEX® Technology is based on high conductivity and low contact resistance in flexible textile form, our partners can benefit from durable and lightweight solutions that can reduce energy use in various applications.
  • As a precious metal with demonstrated lasting market value, Noble and our partners have added incentive to reuse or recycle off-spec, obsolete, or waste products.

Silver Sourcing & Recycling

Noble understands the importance of silver recovery and recycling for sustainable resource utilization and how important this issue can be to our partners. Noble has implemented several internal silver recovery initiatives and works with our partners to implement their own silver recovery projects. Likewise, Noble has maintained a long-standing relationship with our silver suppliers based on their commitments to sourcing silver from select primary and secondary silver recovery and recycling processes. This ensures that Noble continues to utilize high purity sources of silver without compromising on its commitment to sourcing silver from suppliers equally committed to providing recovered and recycled silver.


Certifications & Regulatory

bluesign®

Noble has been a bluesign® system partner since 2013, meeting stringent requirements for production management practices in raw materials, wastewater, air emissions, waste management, hazards management, safety, and chemical use. Periodic audits and regular reporting of progress toward improvement goals is a key component of the bluesign® system. bluesign® is widely recognized as a benchmark for addressing the environmental, health, and safety impacts of textile manufacturing.

Global Recycle Standard Certification

Partners that desire Noble’s technology delivered in recycled polyester can request chip that is certified and traceable by the Global Recycle Standard (GRS). Each shipment comes with a Transaction Certificate certifying that the goods come from production using certified chips.

OEKO-TEX® Certification

OEKO-TEX® certification is built around manufacturing site audits and the independent testing of products for harmful substances according to stringent limits and consistent test methods. Noble produces filament and fabric products that meet Oeko‐Tex Standard 100 accreditation, which certifies that it supports human ecology through biocompatibility and the absence of harmful substances in the manufacturing process.

Conflict Minerals

As required in Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, certain publicly traded companies are required to address the use of conflict minerals. While Noble, as a private company, is not required to report under these provisions, Noble has assessed its manufacturing process and raw materials and does not use conflict minerals or their covered derivatives.

EPA-Registered Anti-odor / Antimicrobial Products

Goods incorporating our X-STATIC® or IONIC+ Technology products for anti-odor / antimicrobial applications are considered “Treated Articles” and exempt from full coverage under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) provided certain requirements are met. One of these requirements is that the active ingredient product used in a Treated Article is registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). For our X-STATIC® and IONIC+™ Technology products, the active ingredients utilized in these products are registered with the EPA under FIFRA.

Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR)

In accordance with the European Union Biocidal Products Regulation 528/2012/EU (“BPR”), the Biocidal Products used to treat our X-STATIC® and IONIC+™ Technology products are currently under BPR review or approved and are supported or approved under Product Type 9 material preservation – which includes biocidal odor prevention. Therefore, provided other requirements of the BPR are met (including BPR Treated Article labeling, consumer response, and supply chain communication within the E.U.) products manufactured using X-STATIC® and IONIC+™ Technology currently meet the requirements for continued manufacture, supply, and distribution within the EU according to BPR requirements.

Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)

Noble Brand products are supplied as articles and as such, based on use and functionality, are not directly registered under REACH (EC No 1907/2006). However, these products are assessed on an on-going basis according to the requirements of Annex XIV Substances of Very High Concern (“SVHC”) as well as Annex XVII Restricted Substances. Noble CIRCUITEX®, X-STATIC®, and IONIC+™ Technology products are regularly evaluated for SVHC and restricted substance conformity based on periodic changes to these requirements and, in addition, conformity with the Annex XVII Restricted Substances are assessed as part of our Oeko-Tex® product testing and certification.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)

Noble’s products are manufactured in conformity with the EU requirements restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) according to European Union Directives (2002/95/EC, 2011/65/EU, and 2015/863/EU).

All certificates or regulatory conformity statements are gladly furnished upon request. Please email sustainability@noblebiomaterials.com.


Health & Safety

Noble’s products are designed to make people’s lives better. To that end, Noble is deeply committed to making sure that its products and processes comply with stringent global health and safety regulations.

United States Food & Drug Administration

Noble currently holds multiple 510(k) FDA approvals for advanced wound/burn care dressings. This has led to the development of material sourcing and production processes capable of meeting the rigorous requirements necessary to produce medical device components. Noble has several medical device partners that rely on this critical expertise to provide X-STATIC® Technology components central to their FDA-cleared devices.

While this experience and expertise is important to our medical device partners, these same product principles form the foundation for all our X-STATIC® and CIRCUITEX® Technology metallized yarn, fiber, and fabric products. Our medical device component manufacturing operations are the same as for our other X-STATIC® and CIRCUITEX® production processes, ensuring the use of high purity silver sources, product quality testing, statistical process analysis, and other practices necessary to produce these critical medical device components. We are well versed in practices needed to support medical device approvals and this expertise has been extended to support our Brand partners pursuing medical device applications reliant on our CIRCUITEX® Technology conductive & biometric monitoring products. Furthermore, the studies used to support our 510(k) FDA applications such as biocompatibility can help provide guidance for all our X-STATIC® and CIRCUITEX® Technology product partners.

European Community Medical Device Regulations

While Noble does not directly distribute medical devices in the EU nor hold CE Marks, we have a number of medical device partners that rely on our X-STATIC® Technology components for the manufacture of medical devices in conformity with the Regulation (EU) 2017/745 on Medical Devices. Noble has developed manufacturing processes and practices that are capable of meeting these rigorous requirements. We also have years of experience supporting these partners and working with the EU Notified Bodies responsible for demonstrating that our components meet legal requirements established to ensure the final devices are safe and able to perform as intended.


Quality


Delivering quality products is a cornerstone of Noble’s core values. Noble is committed to the principles of the ISO 9001:2015 Certified Quality Management System and has been an ISO 9001 certified facility since 2003.  Quality is assured by integrating Six Sigma methodology into the ISO 9001 system to continuously monitor and improve manufacturing processes and finished product quality. This commitment includes:

  • Manufacturing processes employ data collection software for the continuous in-process monitoring and statistical process control (SPC) of input process parameters and output product quality.
  • Production and quality data are analyzed using statistical software to verify and ensure production processes maintain capability to meet finished product specifications by process capability (CpK, PpK) analysis.
  • Fully equipped, on-site quality control laboratory with testing capabilities for certification of physical and chemical properties of yarns, fabrics, foams, and soft fibers.
  • Analytical laboratory testing capabilities include Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES) and Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) for trace elemental analysis and Fabric Certification of silver (Ag) Ion Release; Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometer (FTIR) to identify and study chemicals of extracted dyes, coatings, and finishes; and an AATCC certified laundrometer for home laundering simulation studies and Fabric Certification for Ion Release.
  • Physical properties laboratory testing capabilities include a USTER TENSORAPID Tensile Tester for capability to measure tensile strength and elongation through the package; in addition to calibrated equipment for the determination of denier, entanglement, shrink, twist, and resistance/conductivity using ASTM standard methods.
  • Color matching laboratory using spectrophotometer for quantifying and sorting color reflectance datapoints using ∆Ecmc criteria.
  • Qualified Microbiology Laboratories are used for antimicrobial analysis.

Manufacturing Process

Noble Biomaterials meets and strives to exceed regulatory requirements in manufacturing and in the implementation of our product technologies with our mill & manufacturing partners.

Based on the high value for silver, we operate our production process in an efficient manner and rely extensively on comprehensive material recovery and recycling processes.  Noble maintains a comprehensive waste recovery process collecting process scrap, product overruns, off-spec products, and customer returns for offsite material processing and silver value recovery. Likewise, we have invested extensively in our advanced wastewater treatment plant with a chemical treatment package custom designed for silver recovery and the performance of this process has been recognized by the local sewer authority for its high performance.

In addition to general environmental performance, through the bluesign® system partner process, we have undergone extensive review of our processes and the materials we use to produce our products. This review and periodic site audits have helped us identify opportunities for increased safety precautions, process improvement, and material substitution – leading to better alignment with increasingly more stringent textile industry sustainability expectations. Along with ongoing ISO 9001 site audits, as a supplier to several customers in the medical device manufacturing industry, our facilities are frequently audited for conformity with both U.S. and European medical device manufacturing requirements.

Beyond our own manufacturing processes, we also know that our responsibilities extend beyond our process – working to properly implement our technologies together with our mill and brand partners. Noble has an experienced integration team and subject matter experts that provide added value to our partners. To best utilize our X-STATIC®, IONIC+™, and CIRCUITEX® Technology products, we work with our partners in the field to make sure our technologies perform to their highest expectations, suggest sustainable alternatives to existing formulations, and operate a certification program to provide our partners with certainty in antimicrobial / anti-odor performance.


Code of Conduct

Like many of the brand partners that we work with, we are committed to corporate Code of Conduct as highlighted here. Noble will comply with all applicable federal, provincial, state, and local requirements in the country or countries in which we operate. While these requirements will be met, they only serve as a foundation for our performance. Noble will strive to exceed such requirements in order to ensure the protection of our workers, our stakeholders, and our commitment to basic sustainability principles of the company.

Noble Biomaterials – Code of Conduct for Production Partners

We comply with all brand partner Codes of Conduct. In addition, because we believe in the importance of ensuring decent working environments throughout the manufacturing process of our products, the following Code of Conduct sets the following minimum standards to be met by all production partners involved in manufacturing products with our materials.

Child Labor

No person shall be employed under the age of 15 or under the age for completion of compulsory education, whichever is higher.

Forced Labor

Production partners shall not use any bonded, indentured, forced, or slave labor, labor conducted by prisoners, labor similar to slavery, or labor engaged through human trafficking.

Coercion and Harassment

Production partners must treat all workers with respect and dignity. Production partners shall not use corporal punishment or any forms of coercion. Production partners shall not engage in or permit any forms of abuse, including physical, verbal, or psychological abuse, or any forms of harassment, including sexual harassment. Production partners shall have a written system of progressive discipline, e.g. the application of escalating disciplinary action from verbal warnings to suspension and finally to termination.

Discrimination

Production partners shall employ workers on the basis of their ability to do the job. Production partners shall not discriminate against workers on the basis of race, gender, color, nationality, religion, age, maternity, marital status, social or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, political opinion, disability, affiliation, non-affiliation, or any other status.

Health and Safety

Production partners shall provide all workers with a safe and healthy environment, ensuring proper health and safety management; building and fire safety; safety of machinery and equipment; access to potable water and suitable sanitary facilities; and safe handling of chemicals. The same standards shall also apply to housing for workers.

Freedom of Association

Production partners shall recognize and respect the right of workers to associate, organize, and bargain collectively. In addition, all production partners shall implement grievance mechanisms to allow all workers to confidentially communicate concerns to the production partner’s management and the worker representative without the risk of retaliation and provide effective means remedy such grievances.

Wages and Benefits

Production partners shall furnish wages and benefits, make monetary deductions, and provide workers with employment contracts in compliance with all applicable Law. Production partners shall also maintain wage-related documentation. No monetary deductions shall be permitted for disciplinary action.

Working Hours

Production partners shall comply with working hour limits established by applicable laws, but under no circumstances shall regular weekly working hours exceed 48 hours per week. The sum of regular and overtime hours in a week shall not exceed 60 hours. Production partners shall provide workers with at at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every seven-day period. Production partners shall also maintain accurate time-in/out records of each worker. All overtime work shall be consensual. Employers shall not request overtime on a regular basis and shall compensate all overtime work at a premium rate.

Subcontracting and Procurement

When production partners subcontract production orders, production partners shall ensure that all business activities by such subcontractors follow this code of conduct.

Transparency and Integrity

We expect all business with our production partners to be carried out in an ethical and transparent manner. We do not tolerate any forms of unethical behavior, including bribery, concealment or falsification of records, or influencing workers to mislead Noble Biomaterials and its designated agents.

[i] Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CR Hammond – CRC Press, 2000
[ii] Hill and Pilsbury, 1939


Contact

For more information on Noble Biomaterials’ Corporate Safety and Responsibility policies or certifications, please contact:

Terry Walmsley
Director Regulatory Affairs and Sustainability
Email: twalmsley@x-static.com
Office:
+1 (570) 955-1182
Mobile:
+1 (570) 862-6165