Thursday, February 2, 2012Professional bodies

What about COSMOS arriving for real?

©L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

One was on the verge to think that the interplanetary rocket launched by the European organic cosmetics labelling bodies was lost in the Cosmos maze, that the so often heralded and waited for COSMOS-standard had dissolved in star dust, such as the dust spread by its main competitor, NaTrue. Not at all, we are told! Do you believe it? We are now told that COSMOS-standard is set for soon!

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It has been announced for tomorrow, then for the day after, then for now, then… we went to say nothing while numbering days, weeks, years, and waiting for the first example of the COSMOS-Standard on the labels of our cosmetics.
Nothing yet in sight, and yet… During a press conference held by Cosmebio (the Professional Association of Ecological and Organic Cosmetics) to celebrate its ten years of existence, the question got an absolute answer: the moment is coming quickly!

As a reminder: the COSMOS-Standard shall be the culmination of a (long) harmonization process between the different labels that govern natural and organic cosmetics in Europe. Only one repository, and common  technical criteria shall allow for the standardizing of the solutions and for a better understanding of the message y consumers.
Around the negotiation table, Cosmébio, BDIH, Ecocert, Icea and Soil Association: discussions have been long (the work began in 2002), often harsh (leading to the secession of some actors, which launched the NaTrue label), and, additionally, of a high technical level.

A document (still available only in English) has finally been published a year ago, the statutes are filed, the certification bodies are approved… and the certification processes have begun. However, there is still nothing on labels…
Indeed, things are not that simple.

First, the ingredients

In fact, prior to the certification of finished products, the raw materials allowed for use in their formulae should be approved.
It happens that the Cosmos-Standard introduces some developments that are not without consequences on formulae. In particular, processed ingredients from vegetable origin (emulsifiers, surfactants, etc.) shall, as far as possible, be also produced by organic farming.

This work to approve raw materials has been implemented in 2011, “150 are approved today,” according to Betty Santonnat, the General Secretary for the daily management of the COSMOS-Standard AISBL.
A hundred and fifty, it is a small figure… and not enough, “we are in a transitional period,” as Betty Santonnat explains, “during which the first products certified according to the Cosmos standard will live along with the others meeting the previous criteria.”

Then, the products

End of this transitional period: 1 January 2015. Then, all the organic products Cosmebio labelled will have to meet the COSMOS-standard requirements.
Thus, when will the first organic product from Cosmos be available? “It should be placed on the French market during 2012,” a promise by Betty Santonnat. “Fifteen to twenty French companies have applied for certification.”

We only want to believe in!
Indeed, if this new standard is so waited for, this is due to the criteria more stringent than in the current repositories.
Consider only the lowest percentage of organic ingredients, which will go from 10% to 20% of the finished product. Or the mandatory use (instead of the current “suggested” use) of an organic vegetable active ingredient, when available. This would put an end to all the formulae, labelled as organic, in which only one ingredient is organic (generally, a low-cost floral water), present at 10% to get the certification, while all the other ingredients, even the vegetable ones, are not.

A higher quality, a greater coherence, a greater involvement in organic cosmetics… that is all one is waiting for from the COSMOS-standard. We, too, have (yet, still) to wait a bit…

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