There has long been confusion over definitions of terms such as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in the industry, without a single universal definition.
Speaking at this year’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris on Monday, Stephen Weller, IFRA’s director of communication, explained that the new report is intended to address this deficiency and act as a guideline to the fragrance industry.
“The definitions are not a green label or certification – IFRA have no intention of doing so for green terminology, we only certify for the safety aspects of the industry,” Weller said.
“These are our clarifications of terms linked to ‘green’”
The document highlights ‘natural’ to mean existing in or produced by nature. With no official regulatory definition for the term in the fragrance industry, IFRA considers fragrance ingredients to be natural when they pre-exist in natural source materials from which they are isolated exclusively by physical means.
“The term does not mean its not produced without fertilizers or pesticides, that’s what organic means,” stressed Weller.
Consequently, the document defines an ‘organic’ material as one manufactured with natural raw ingredients that are ‘guaranteed organic’ and grown without the use of conventional pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
These ‘organic’ ingredients are also produced according to rules certified by an approved certification body, such as ACOS in the UK.
Speaking of biodegradability, Weller commented there is no regulatory definition on which to base such a claim in cosmetics.
He went on to explain that, instead, the biodegradability of a fragrance needs to be based on the biodegradability of its individual constituents.
Are organic fragrances more sustainable than synthetics?
Weller concluded by stating that it is not possible to claim organic fragrances as more sustainable than synthetic fragrances, or vice versa.
“It depends on the company and its brief – if a company want a sustainable fragrance then we have to look at whatever materials are available whether synthetic or organic.”
“You can’t really say one or the other, they are not always exclusive, and IFRA treat organic and synthetic the same.”