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Cosmos organic standard launched after lengthy consultation

By Katie Bird , 09-Jun-2009

The Cosmos standard for natural and organic cosmetics has been released after six years of debate between some of Europe’s biggest certification bodies.

It was due to be released earlier this spring but public consultation and finalising the details of the standard took longer than expected, explained Francis Blake from the UK certification body, the Soil Association.

“We have made some changes since the standard was opened to public consultation late last year,” he told CosmeticsDesign.

Reduced synthetic content

The allowed percentage of synthetic ingredients, a contentious issue when the standard was originally publicised, has been reduced.

“We had set the allowed percentage of synthetics at 5 percent, which some felt unacceptably high,” he said.

Synthetics are likely to come from only a few sources such as preservatives, which would never be added at more than 1 or 2 percent, therefore reducing the percentage seemed possible and preferable, explained Blake.

In addition, changes have been made to how the standard calculates the organic content of processed agro-ingredients. Blake described this as a ‘very complicated issue’ that has now been finalised.

The standard now has to be accepted by the various organisations involved (Ecocert, Soil Association, BDIH, Bioforum, Cosmebio and ICEA) but Blake said this was more of a formality and should not delay the process.

Certification to the standard is expected to start in September 2009.

The Cosmos standard was an attempt to harmonize European organic and natural standards for cosmetics and personal care products. However, criticisms over its lengthy conception led to a breakaway group Natrue forming a new standard.

Water included but not certifiable

One of the main differences between the Cosmos standard and others in the marketplace is its treatment of water.

“When calculating if a product qualifies as organic other standards take water out of the equation,” explained Blake.

The Cosmos standard includes the water content although it cannot be certified organic.

The high water content of some formulas is reflected in a two tier system: for water-based formulas a lower percentage of the total product must be organic than for non water-based formulas.