Originally conceived back in 2002 as a way to harmonise Europe’s natural and organic standards open to cosmetics and personal care producers, the standard has now been officially opened for applications.
“In 2002, the founding organisations recognized that both the cosmetics industry and the cosmetics market are international and that companies and consumers would be best served by a single standard” said Francis Blake, president of the Board of COSMOS-standard AISBL, the association that now holds the standard and manages applications.
“After much hard negotiation, we are very pleased that our work together is now ready and we are proud to launch the COSMOS-standard scheme,” added Blake, who is also policy advisor to the Soil Association, one of COSMOS’ founding members.
Good potential but could get a cautious reception
Commenting on the launch of the standard, Amarjit Sahota, head of organic market research company Organic Monitor, said the standard could significantly change the market, although he expected the reception from the industry to be cautious.
“It holds great potential, as it could unify the European natural cosmetics industry by giving a single natural & organic standard,” he told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
“However, because of the lengthy gestation period, there remain some doubts on how quickly it will be implemented and adopted by cosmetic companies. Most companies are greeting it with caution, as its launch and implementation have been delayed many times,” he added.
However, according to one of the standard's founding members Cosmebio, products certified to COSMOS can be expected soon.
“It [the certification process] can go very fast, there are a lot of companies who are already preparing their products that conform with this standard, so we can expect compliant products very soon,” said Veronique Bouyon, a spokesperson for French standards organisation and founding member, Cosmebio.
Not the only standard
While the COSMOS standard was originally conceived as a harmonised European effort, the standards landscape has changed significantly since the project began.
Apparently frustrated with the speed of negotiations, a number of organisations formed Brussels-based NaTrue late 2007. Originally formed as a natural cosmetics lobby group, NaTrue launched a standard soon after its formation in early 2008.
The organisation has since made significant ground with equivalency agreements in the US including one with the NSF/ANSI 305 standard.
For Sahota, although NaTrue has gained popularity in the last two years, the standards of the COSMOS members (Ecocert, Cosmebio, BDIH, ICEA and the Soil Association) remain the most popular in terms of licensees and certified products.
“If Cosmos becomes widely adopted by companies that are currently using Ecocert, BDIH, etc. then Cosmos will have a major impact on the European natural cosmetics industry,” he said.