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Assessing & Regulating Natural Fragrances

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: February 27, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The NPA standard, Fabricant underscores, is not a company certification, but rather a product certification. However, companies must have at least 60% of its products meet the standard to participate—in order to avoid any greenwashing. Specification and technical sheets, as well as some limited formulation information, are among the documents that must be submitted. “With nomenclature,” Fabricant says, “it’s never a straight line. One person’s extract is another’s extract filled with parabens. But on the label, it reads the same. We knew from the beginning that we would need a little extra information: Trust, but verify.” Here, Fabricant stresses that proprietary information is respected and that full formula disclosure is not required. In addition, future standards will include on-site visits.

The Future of Harmonization

“I think the dust has to settle on the organic standards,” says Fabricant, addressing the possibilities of future harmonization of standards. “There are going to have to be concessions made among those [organizations] for one standard to be reached. Even if you have only two standards, then that confusion is still out there. From our end, I don’t see how we can harmonize with seven different standards.”

Corley notes that organic personal care standards have been fractious and confusing, with different groups around the world presenting their own metrics. Some have taken into account certain practical green chemistry allowances, while others have not. In the absence of more universal organic personal care standards, and in the spirit of providing for necessary technical concessions, the NPA sought to create an evolving natural definition and natural personal care guidelines.

NPA has reached out to organic and international organizations, but all efforts are in their infancy at this time. “We would like to have harmonization because it benefits the consumer and the industry in terms of trade across borders and clarifying to consumers—as well as manufacturers and supply chain—as to what is natural.”

“The way this process would have worked in an ideal world would be that the natural standard would have evolved into an organic standard,” says Corley. “That’s not what happened. The organic movement spun off the natural movement. It’s backwards, but today we have established a natural personal care products standard. It’s the only one in the United States.”