Mr. Aebersold, why was NaTrue founded? Similar to organic food some years ago, the Natural Cosmetics market is undergoing impressive developments. We have had two digit growths for some years now and, as in all dynamic markets, the growth attracts new players. It is important to see that Natural Cosmetics was originally a niche market with few companies that shared a high quality understanding of Natural Cosmetics both in terms of naturalness and organic origin – it is these standards that consumers have come to trust.
Many new competitors have a different understanding of Natural Cosmetics. This is also due to the fact that the terms Natural Cosmetics and Organic Cosmetics are not regulated by law. Different markets also developed different understandings because the market outlook was regional or national at the most but not cross border. This has changed: today’s Natural Cosmetics market is a global market.
We realised that Natural Cosmetics needs a common voice if it is to preserve its meaning.
And where does the label come in? Establishing a label was originally not one of NaTrue’s key priorities. We wanted a quality driven and cross-border definition for Natural- and Organic Cosmetics and urged for a correspondent label to protect the credibility of our products.
"We cannot certify our products with a label that does not fulfil consumer’s expectations towards high quality Natural and Organic Cosmetics."
Following long discussions as well as third party encouragement, it became clear to us that we had to take responsibility and establish such a label ourselves. We cannot certify our products with a label that does not fulfil consumer’s expectations towards high quality Natural and Organic Cosmetics.
How were the criteria developed? There was clear agreement among all initiators from the outset: criteria would solely be defined to meet consumers’ expectations. Consumers have a right to know what a product contains and in what quantity. We therefore decided to visualise the organic quantity in three grades and to make the label uniquely transparent to all stakeholders.
On this basis, a technical committee set out to define the criteria. The committee was composed to unite the greatest possible expertise. In addition to the scientific experts of the pioneer companies various other experts with extensive knowledge in cosmetic development and technology participated. The outcome was a highly fruitful process, raising everybody’s understanding to a new level and allowing the criteria to be based on the latest scientific evidence.
The new legal status is currently being defined and will have a number of advantages, most of all in terms of membership, allowing non-European manufacturers to become Supporting Members and other associations and bodies to become Associate Members. NaTrue will publish a press Release as soon as the new Statutes are finalised.
The ‘European Cosmetics Standards Working Group’ initiative has published for discussion a list of criteria for another international label for natural cosmetics. Implementation of the label has not yet been finalised in many areas. There is no organisation to manage the label, and no proposals have been made as to the graphic design. In the opinion of NaTrue, the lack of clarity both with regard to the information communicated and the rules comprising the standard cannot provide the transparency nor the independency the future label should have from the point of view of the consumer.
In addition, the list of criteria published for discussion as the "COSMOS Standard" quickly reveals further inaccuracies and contradictions in terms of the natural and organic credentials of the ingredients:
1. Petrochemical raw materials and raw material components (known as moieties) may be used – up to 5 % in the end product.
2. The calculation of the organic percentage is misleading from the consumer's point of view: chemically altered raw material components and natural raw materials receive equal treatment. (6.4.3) states that water cannot be included in the calculation of the organic portion, however under (6.4.1) the opposite is stated concerning the processing of drugs.
3. There is a lack of clarity and transparency – for example there is no complete list of permitted raw materials.
4. According to COSMOS, chemical processes like alkylation and ‘processes to extract amphoteric materials’ are permitted. This means that raw materials are allowed that in the opinion of NaTrue should definitely not be used as ingredients in natural cosmetics – from the point of view of science and the consumer.
5. It is not clear how the provisions regarding Green Chemistry can be implemented by companies as they are too vague.
6. The point concerning packaging has not been addressed satisfactorily (7.4.3). It is not thinkable that chlorinated raw materials may be used in the manufacture of natural cosmetic products.