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An Oasis in the Land of Confusion

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: May 1, 2008, from the May 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Halpert adds some personal experience. “I’m a private label manufacturer,” he says, “and I can tell you that one of our challenges as we create a product for a customer [is that as] the orders get large, we start worrying about supply.”

Green Chemistry and Fragrance
The Oasis standards allow for up to 15% of nonorganic content in certified products, which means that the fragrance—often a minor percentage of personal care and beauty formulations—does not necessarily have to be organic. However, fragrances must be produced via green chemistry according to the “12 Principles of Green Chemistry,” authored by Paul Anastas and John Warner. Among the principle’s loosely defined main tenets are calls for less hazardous chemical syntheses, renewable feedstocks, safer solvents and reaction conditions, and degradable chemicals and products.

“That’s what green chemistry really means,” says Kapsner. “Green and environmentally responsible. It doesn’t use a lot of petrochemicals or heavy industrial processes. In the fragrance industry, what it really comes down to is using more whole essential oils and plant extracts as aroma materials. The fragrance industry is unique in that it does allow materials that are whole essential oils and aroma chemicals. Cosmetic product companies that want to use whole essential oils are driving the production of certified organic essential oils and that’s the whole objective of this standard—moving this entire industry to certified organic cosmetic products to drive the production of more organic content.”

Kapsner is quick to add, however, that current technologies don’t always allow for wholly organic fragrances. “Green chemistry is embraced in Oasis. You need to allow some processing to occur to make plant materials into cosmetic ingredients. Some of that processing would be used in the context of this model of green chemistry to create aroma materials.”

Looking Forward
Halpert admits the organization has very high goals for its nascent program. “We really want to become the international standard,” he says. “We want Oasis to be regarded as the symbol that assures consumers that what they see on the label is actually in the product. What really distinguishes Oasis is that it’s a verifiable standard—and it’s not Oasis that’s doing the verifying. Once a product has the Oasis seal, we want consumers to feel the same way they feel when they see the [People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals’] bunny seal on cruelty-free products.”