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COSMOS Standard Debuts in Europe

July 6, 2009

New guidelines for natural and organic products.

COSMOS Standard Debuts in Europe

New guidelines for natural and organic products

By Melissa Meisel
Associate Editor

The market for organic and natural cosmetics is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the natural personal care market in the U.S. alone jumped 19% to $2 billion in sales last year, according to a recent study from market research firm Kline & Company, Little Falls, NJ.

Therefore, at all levels of “green”—from suppliers of raw materials to the marketers of finished product—many in the industry are working hard to implement rules that enhance innovation. As a result, BDIH (Germany), BIOFORUM (Belgium), COSMEBIO & ECOCERT (France), ICEA (Italy) and SOIL ASSOCIATION (UK) have joined together for the publication of the COSMOS-standard, one of the most challenging European cosmetics organic and natural standards, according to the group.

Combined, these agencies provide certification to about 1,000 cosmetic companies and 10,000 products, according to Organic Monitor, a UK-based research and consulting company. After six years of intensive work and an international public consultation of three months, the European Cosmetics Standards Working Group finally rolled out the COSMOS-standard last month.

“The long-term objective of COSMOS-standard is to actively contribute to establishing sustainable development by stimulating changes in production patterns and consumption practices,” said Riccardo Anouchinsky of ICEA.

According to the group, the objective of this new standard goes beyond the harmonization of minimum requirements for organic and natural cosmetics. For all ingredients, the actual organic percentage, calculated according to this standard, must be provided on the technical documentation. It covers two levels: cosmetic products under organic certification and cosmetic products under natural certification. Every aspect of the product is considered—from total composition to storage, manufacturing and packaging.

The European Cosmetics Standards Working Group is currently working on harmonizing the key points of the subsequent control plan and expects to be able to start certifying products according toCOSMOS-standard in September 2009.

“With such an important development, we consider vital to involve all key players of the field; and for this reason we will open the COSMOS-standard up to new members via organizations of raw material suppliers, cosmetic laboratories and manufacturers as well as certifications bodies,” said Harald Dittmar of BDIH, Germany.

There has been much anticipation of the new natural and organic cosmetic standard, initially perceived as the basis of a possible international standard. However, Organic Monitor believes COSMOS is losing impetus because of its lengthy gestation period. A number of new initiatives introduced in the last 18 months, like NaTrue, are gaining momentum and could outpace Cosmos, says the company in a report. Nonetheless, in the global natural cosmetics market, more and more standards are emerging for the greater good of green products everywhere.

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