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ISO 16128 guidelines for cosmetics

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The ISO guidelines for natural and organic cosmetics donot take consumers interests at heart, states the association NATRUE. ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization that creates documents setting specifications, requirements or guidance on a topic. The process brings together expertise from a sector to address solutions to global challenges. 

Through standardisation complexity can be reduced, and with-it barriers to trade. As such, this approach is something that the natural and organic cosmetic sector could have benefited from the ISO guidline, says NATRUE in a recent press release. Dr Mark Smith, Director at NATRUE: “Without prejudice, NATRUE welcomes internationally agreed initiatives aimed at reducing complexity and barriers to trade with an emphasis on combating ‘greenwashing’, which is the reason why the NATRUE Label exists. We believe strongly that consumers must not be misled by products claiming ‘natural’ and organic’ but this requires strict criteria to benchmark them”.

And further NATRUE comment that unfortunately, the outcome of this international process, the ISO 16128 guidelines, has fallen short of current private standard’s requirements, and there is no guarantee that products using it will be consistent with consumer expectations, especially within established markets such as the EU. The broad permissions and flexibility of approach as a guideline fails to combat greenwashing that, at heart, still misleads consumers, fragments the market place, and impacts those innovative producers of authentic products. As such, even if both are voluntary schemes, use of the ISO guidelines cannot provide the same immediacy and transparency to reassure consumers and match their expectations as current private standards.  

To provide consumers with the products they expect, NATRUE advocates that any future regulatory procedure for natural and organic cosmetics, including an official definition or specific guidance for product claims ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, must be strict.

The three critical points overall regarding the ISO 16128 guidelines they stand that do not improve the current status quo regarding greenwashing and differ from private standards are:

  • General lack of transparency for consumers
  • Permitted ingredient from Petrochemical origin and GM Plants




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