Greenwashing is the term used to dub the practice of presenting something as natural, organic or green when it can only partly - or in some cases, not at all - meet these claims.
"Consumers are increasingly aware and informed, however the phenomenon of greenwashing, the tendency to present as natural something which is far from it, is still a risk for our sector,” said Francesca Morgante, NATRUE label & communication manager, in a recent statement.
The group’s statement came alongside itsrecent presentation at SANA, a trade event for the fitness, wellness and naturals and organics sectors.
Consumers trust green claims
According to recent research carried out by GFK for NATRUE, over 60% of European consumers are reassured by the presence of certification marks, especially in the natural and organic cosmetics sector.
The survey, published in the study ‘Exploring the territory of natural and organic cosmetics’, was based on the views of 900 women aged between 25 and 65 from six European countries including Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK.
Industry collaboration needed
Speaking of the issue of products that make such claims without substantial scientific or clinical backing, Morgante noted that NATRUE believes the way to tackle this is by industry players working together to create a strict certification system.
“We want to work together to promote authentic natural and organic cosmetics by explaining the strict criteria of NATRUE and certification processes, which ingredients are allowed and in what proportion.
"To offer even greater assurance to the consumers, our standard requires that for each brand not only a few products are to be certified, but at least 75% of the line," says Francesca Morgante, NATRUE Label & Communication Manager
This view - that the industry needs a coherent and strict approach to naturals claims - is one that is shared by other industry bodies.
The Soil Association is one such player who echoes NATRUE’s calls for such a system. Last year, the association’s trade relations manager Emma Reinhold spoke to Cosmetics Design about the issue.
“The only way the ‘green’ sector is going to continue to grow and thrive is if we have some consistency in the language we use,” she told us.
“Consumers are already confused by the language used in non-organic beauty and therefore apprehensive when it comes to buying so the more green messages that are out there will only confuse them further.”