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Exclusive interview

Doing good counts much more than just stories and labels says Weleda

By Andrew McDougall+

24-Sep-2015
Last updated on 24-Sep-2015 at 13:23 GMT2015-09-24T13:23:07Z

We spoke with Weleda's Dr Peter Brändle
We spoke with Weleda's Dr Peter Brändle

Merely complying with an ethical label’s criteria is not sufficient to make a product or brand truly sustainable, according to Weleda’s Regional Director for Western Europe, who says the focus should be on acting green first.

At a time where there have been questions over the proliferation of ethical labels in the cosmetics industry and the ramifications of this, we spoke with the natural beauty firm’s Dr Peter Brändle, ‎and asked him what he thought was the best way to project a green image.

“Doing good counts much more than just stories and labels. And merely complying with the labels’ criteria is not sufficient to make you truly sustainable,” he tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.

Peter explains that at Weleda, since it was founded in 1921, the company has been focused on organic cultivation, biodiversity and fair trade, long before certification labels existed.

“Because this came so naturally and was the ‘right and only’ way for us, for a long time we felt no need to communicate on this,” he says.

“But we put more and more energy into this now, not to be overtaken by ‘greenwashers’. As we get better at communicating the ‘Weleda story’, many consumers are happy to discover it – not for the story’s sake but because they find a way to be “in harmony with nature and the human being”.

Important for trust

Nowadays, Weleda has just one label on the pack – the Natrue standard – as it believes this reflects quality, although Peter says some may believe it is worthwhile to put on as many labels as possible; but that the important thing is that consumers and brands stick to strict, independent and transparent labels that represent large numbers of manufacturers.

“Organic certification verifies and assures that cosmetic products correspond to the criteria outlined in the label’s policy – which in turn reflect consumer needs. For brands they hence lend a ‘second opinion’ on the products' quality,” he explains.

“They also offer guidance when formulating new products to minimize environmental impact of their products while maintaining the efficacy.”

Of course there are costs to cover when obtaining a certification label and it limits the choices in product formulations and production, but Peter says that the high number of supporters is proof that the benefits of labels outweigh the costs.

“Standards and certification/labels are very important in today’s crowded market place where you can have products in any shade of ‘green’, all of which somehow claim to be very natural,” he adds.

“Like strong brands themselves, labels give consumers and retailers orientation and let them trust that a product corresponds to a minimum quality.”

Peter also explains that another aspect that is often overlooked is that certification bodies and the organisations behind the standard also provide forums where the common interests of the manufacturers are united and given a voice, which is especially important as regulators often are unaware of the specifics of natural cosmetics.

Dr Brändle will be giving a keynote on the true value of certification at the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris on October 21-23 .

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