In 2002, the five major European organic and natural cosmetics standard-setting organisations came together to harmonise their respective standards. Between them these standards are used by over 1600 companies manufacturing and selling over 25,000 products in more than 45 countries worldwide – some 85% of the certified cosmetics market. The organisations recognised that both the cosmetics industry and the cosmetics market are international. It was therefore in the best interests of both the industry and consumers that there should be a single, harmonised standard which would therefore provide a transparent and level playing field for all concerned.
So these five organisations put their significant differences aside and started to work together. There followed many years of complex and highly technical discussion to resolve the different approaches and reach agreement on a harmonised standard that addressed the needs of their members and existing certified operators, and of consumers and of course
After a period of public consultation, the harmonised standard was approved by the respective organisations and published in January 2010. This also included all the associated documentation and procedures for its control and management, including approval and authorisation of certification bodies, and the means to review and interpret the Standard as and when needed.
Finally, these organisations decided that they should establish a non-profit international association to own, manage and develop the Standard. This could then be independent and open to all and therefore it could serve the public interest for the benefit of all. The COSMOS-standard AISBL received its Royal Assent from the Belgian authorities in June 2010.
We are proud to have achieved this and we are pleased to be able to offer this to the whole industry as a tool for helping to improve its sustainability, and to produce products that consumers want.
Who are we?
The COSMOS-standard AISBL* is a not-for-profit, international association registered in Belgium. It was set up to own, manage and develop the COSMOS-standard as an international (and internationally accepted) standard for organic and natural cosmetics.
We are a membership organisation and anyone can join. If you are a national, European or international association, then you can be a full member (with voting rights). If you are a company or an individual, then you can be an associate member (no voting rights). In this way, we can ensure that our Standard and its management are entirely independent of any commercial interest and it can serve all stakeholders and the environment with integrity.
The AISBL was founded in 2010 by the five main European (and international) organisations involved with organic and natural cosmetics standards: BDIH in Germany, Cosmebio and Ecocert in France, ICEA in Italy, and Soil Association in the UK. They recognised that the cosmetics market and the cosmetics industry are both international, and therefore both consumers and companies are best served by a single international standard, as this is the only way to ensure the same clarity, integrity and consumer trust in all countries and markets, coupled with manufacturing efficiency and sustainable development.
These organisations therefore came together in a spirit of cooperation for the public good to develop the COSMOS-standard. Once established they formed a non-profit international association to own, manage and develop the Standard, to be independent and open to all.
* AISBL stands for ’Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif’ (English translation: international association without lucrative purpose) and is the formal designation for such organisations under Belgian law.
What we do
As we (in other words, all our members) own the COSMOS-standard, our main work is to manage, promote and protect it. We do this by authorising and overseeing high quality and harmonised certification using well defined, comprehensive and independent procedures. Thus you can be assured that any COSMOS ORGANIC and COSMOS NATURAL product has been produced and manufactured in accordance with our strict standards and has been certified as such by a competent and professional certification body which itself has been approved by an independent accreditation body.
But the COSMOS-standard is also progressive. The organic and natural cosmetics industry is still small and relatively new, and its requirements are already a big step up from conventional cosmetics. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve more organic ingredients and more environmentally friendly manufacturing. Therefore the Standard includes progressive steps in that direction and our aim is to continue this process as technology development and more widespread organic farming allow.
Of course, organic and natural cosmetics don’t operate in a vacuum – they are influenced by both government policy and consumer interest and demand. Therefore we also provide representation, communication and information exchange between members and other stakeholders with the aim of improving the policy environment for organic and natural cosmetics and to foster wider public awareness.