The France-headquartered certifying body takes into account both formulation and packaging when investigating a product for certification.
However, the rules on packaging are currently being redefined, technical manager for cosmetics affairs Pauline Raffaitin explained.
“We have initiated work with a team of technical experts in order to redefine the criteria that we use to consider packaging for natural and organic cosmetics,” she told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
Currently, the body has two sets of rules for packaging covering primary and secondary packaging.
According to Ecocert, primary packaging must respect the environment, so it has to be recyclable and not consume too much energy in its manufacture. In addition, PVC and expanded polystyrene are not allowed to be used as primary packaging.
Secondary packaging must be either recyclable and non-polluting, or recycled, which in practice includes materials such as paper/card, glass, aluminium, PP, PEHD and PET, the body explained.
Although in some cases the proportion of these materials that are actually recycled is very low in certain regions, the fact that they are in theory recyclable leads to their acceptance.
Ecocert and the technical committee’s work to improve the packaging side of the certification will see it take a more comprehensive approach.
“We are trying to take a global approach, looking at the manufacture of the packaging, its function and its end of life,” Raffaitin said.
Getting hold of this information could become significantly easier for the certification body over the next few years, as increasing numbers of products are subjected to a life cycle analysis.
Life cycle analysis investigates the environmental impact of a product from its conception to its disposal. An increasingly popular tool, it will play an important role in the move to display a product’s environmental characteristics on the label.
Discussions surrounding environment labelling are progressing in many areas but in France this is set to become mandatory for manufacturers of certain consumer products under the Grenelle law in January 2011.
Ecocert expects that life cycle analysis data, necessary for this kind of environment labelling, will help refine its packaging standards, Raffaitin explained.
“We are very interested by the life cycle analyses that are going to be put in place in the next few years by cosmetics and packaging manufacturers. We are in the midst of trying to improve our criteria for packaging,” she said.