Certifying Green

Although green certification programs exist from a multitude of sources, there are few that address personal care products as a discrete category—EcoLogo (www.ecologo.org) is a North American certification agency that does include personal care as a category for certification.

In the area of ecologically responsible cosmetic ingredients, ECOCERT (www.ecocert.com) has emerged as one of the most widely used organic certification organizations, and conducts inspections in more than 80 countries—making the European-based organization one of the largest organic certification organizations in the world.

Certification agencies associated with organic products usually have well-defined guidelines for acceptable processes. In the U.S., the Organic Materials Review Institute (www.omri.org) provides suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production and processing. OMRI reviews products against the USDA National Organic Program standards. The U.K.’s Soil Association certifies organic products and continually updates its voluntary standards. Similar to the USDA standards, a product that carries the Soil Association symbol and is labeled “organic” must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients, while a “made with organic ingredients” labeled product must contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. The remaining ingredients that are permitted in the products must be proven to be non-genetically modified and can be used with restrictions.

Of course, any certification is only as good as the reputation of the certifying agency, and if the agency’s standards are ill-defined, unknown, or simply not in accordance with consumer expectations, then that seal of approval is meaningless.