The industry and all things green in 2008

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fair trade Organic monitor

The year has seen the strengthening of all things green in both the political and public consciousness. However, how is the cosmetics industry reacting to these shifting ideals and principles?

Primarily, 2008 has seen what was originally a niche category take over the beauty aisles in almost every developed market.

Statistics from Organic Monitor published late last year valued the global organic and naturals market at $7bn, and forecast that it would surpass the $10bn mark by the end of the decade.

Standards, certificates and regulation

The year has also seen a number of significant regulatory changes. The long awaited harmonised European organic and natural standards were published for public consultation in November, and although the reception has been mixed, it is the first step on an important road to harmonisation.

The Cosmos standards results from collaboration between six European certification bodies (Bioforum, Cosmebio, Ecocert, BDIH, ICEA and Soil Association) and aim to clarify the situation for formulators and consumers alike.

However, not everyone has come down in favour of the proposed standards. Critics claim a number of grey areas remain including the question of whether water can be certified organic.

In addition, there are doubts as to when the finalised standards will be published and launched onto the market. Furthermore, competing certification bodies remain and it is uncertain as to how they will react when Cosmos is officially launched.

Aside from organic, 2008 was the year a number of peripheral trends took centre stage, including ethical, fairtrade and carbon footprinting. There have even been suggestions that the concept of food miles will be making its way into the cosmetics arena in 2009.

Reports early in the year from Organic Monitor placed France as the leader of the fairtrade movement with the highest number of personal care products launching with the well known Fair Trade logo.

The market research company predicts the consumers’ appetite for fairtrade products will continue to grow, however the limited number of suitable ingredients may lead to the growth of products containing a number of fairtrade ingredients rather than 100 per cent certified products.

Further down the green road is the Union for Ethical Biotrade, which attempts to promote sustainable and ethical trade in biodiversity-based products, built on the principles in the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD).

The union has pledged to raise awareness of the CBD and promote membership to the Union within the cosmetics industry, as it was highlighted as a sector where awareness was particularly low.

Its whole company approach, rather than single product or ingredient, makes the Union a more difficult prospect for companies who wish to cash in on the kudos associated with the ethical tag.

Trekking further into the realms of niche trends, April’s InCosmetics show in Amsterdam saw the presentation of the FairWild standard to the industry, which attempts to promote fair and sustainable trade in wild harvested products.

For the moment the standard operates mainly in the Balkan states where raw material supply has been threatened by years of war.

The concept of carbon footprint measurement also came to the foreground earlier this year with the publication of a standard by the Carbon Trust, Defra and BSI British Standards.

PAS 2050 was designed to provide companies with a consistent method of calculating the carbon emissions involved in a product or service throughout its life cycle – from raw material sourcing to product disposal.

Eco-consumer makes a mark

It is clear from the growth of the market for organic, natural and fairtrade that the ideals of the eco-consumer are beginning to make their mark. The industry is reacting with a plethora of standards, certificates and regulations, however whether this will in turn boost sales remains to be seen.

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