In this exclusive interview, the organisation’s Senior Technical Officer, Emma Dawes, explains how the COSMOS certification is evolving to meet the shifting demands for natural and organic beauty.
What is COSMOS, and why are its requirements changing?
The COSMOS Standard has been developed at the European and international level by BDIH (Germany), COSMEBIO & ECOCERT (France), ICEA (Italy) and SOIL ASSOCIATION (UK) who are the founders of the COSMOS-standard (an international non-profit association) in order to define common requirements and definitions for organic and/or natural cosmetics. More details are available here.
There is a new version of the standard coming into force 1 January 2019, and this has a new requirement for certain palm derivatives to come from a certified sustainable source.
How is COSMOS evolving in practical terms, and what do companies need to do to meet new requirements?
Due to the growing global concern and urgent need to protect the planet from irresponsible deforestation, COSMOS believe that the organic and natural cosmetics industry should take responsibility for the sourcing of palm oil and palm kernel oil, to ensure as best we can that the environment is not being harmed. Palm oil does have to be certified organic according to the Standard.
COSMOS carried out some research on availability of palm and palm kernel oil derivatives and has decided to introduce a new standard on CSPO palm derivatives.
Note that COSMOS would prefer to have all ingredients from palm and palm derivatives from organic sources but at present this is not possible due to availability.
From 1st January 2019 new COSMOS certified products must be formulated using raw materials/ingredients from a list (those available at present) from certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) using the mass balance supply chain model at least
Why is there consumer appetite for COSMOS? What sets it apart as an accreditation scheme?
Consumers have a growing interest in organic and natural cosmetics and also want to know that the products they are buying are authentic and they can trust them.
Our ‘Campaign for Clarity’ Campaign in 2016 showed that there are high levels of confusion and mistrust and shoppers are keen to be able to buy certified organic and natural products.
COSMOS especially, as a unified global standard, gives this.
It is independent of companies so there is no conflict of interest, formed by five leading certifiers, who have worked together to make a harmonised global standard.
The beauty and cosmetics industry is global and this helps to remove consumer confusion and ensure all products meet a single set of standards which ultimately, where areas such as palm oil are concerned, will lead to greater impact overall.
Do you think consumers will continue to be as discerning about their beauty and personal care products in the future?
Yes, due to social media and news media environmental and health issues are only going to be more exposed, so companies are going to have to keep on top of these issues with green formulation of their products.
The natural cosmetics market is set to reach £34 billion globally in 2019.
Do you have any predictions for what demands we may see changing when it comes to naturals and organics/what new demands may emerge?
Consumers may demand particular products with no petrochemicals at all, which some types of product (eg. shampoo) are not possible at present.
They may demand no water in products or no plastic packaging. Regulators may require certification for beauty products labelled natural and organic (IFOAM EU, an EU organic movement who lobby the government, have concluded this recently).
As above, consumers are no longer happy to put up with green washing; they expect brands to do the right thing and they are increasingly looking for certification and transparency from brands.
Consumers are also wanting their choices to have a positive impact on the planet and the environment, so areas such as packaging are also very important as is the increasing demand for organic products.
Any other thoughts on the evolution of COSMOS, and the naturals and organics beauty market?
There are now over 5000 certified COSMOS products and interestingly approximately 74% are Organic as opposed to Natural. There are also 10,000 certified or approved COSMOS ingredients.