Europe: New Harmonised Natural & Organic Cosmetic Standards Launched

After several years of discussions, the major certification agencies in Europe have finally reached an agreement on harmonising their private standards for natural & organic cosmetics.

Soil Association (UK), BDiH (Germany), Ecocert (France), Cosmebio (France), ICEA (Italy) and Ecogarantie (Belgium) have developed common standards for natural and organic cosmetics. The first draft of the new Cosmos standard has been released for public consultation. The final draft will be drawn in January and certification of products will begin in April 2009.

The agreement sets minimum standards for natural cosmetics and organic cosmetics, however the agencies will still be able to develop separate standards as long as the baselines are met. The move is analogous to what has occurred in the organic food industry where the EU has minimum standards for organic agriculture and food products.

Organic Monitor sees harmonisation of standards as an important development, since the private standards of the agencies involved are the most widely adopted in the natural cosmetics industry. These agencies represent more than 1,000 companies and over 11,000 certified products. The major advantage of the new standards is that they will prevent re-certification and facilitate regional trade of natural & organic cosmetics. However, a major drawback is that companies will have to re-formulate and re-label existing products to adopt the new standards.

It was once hoped that the much-awaited European standards would pave the way for a possible common global standard. However, the lengthy discussions have led to the emergence of new standards in Europe and North America. In Europe, NaTrue is gaining momentum since its initial announcement in November last year. Its natural & organic cosmetic standards have received the backing of some of the leading international brands. Across the Atlantic, initiatives like NSF, OASIS and NPA are gaining ground. With similar developments occurring in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific, the goal of a common global standard could eventually become a distant memory.

Natural Cosmetic Workshops & Summits
With a plethora of natural & organic cosmetic standards being introduced, cosmetic manufacturers, formulators and ingredient companies are questioning the differences between these standards and their practical implications. Organic Monitor is undertaking a series of workshops & summits to navigate companies through the maze of natural & organic cosmetic standards, looking specifically at the technical, formulation and ingredient issues involved. More details on upcoming summits is on the website

Related Report: #8041-11 Technical Insights: Natural & Organic Cosmetic Standards, Assessment

Posted: November 14th 2008

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