Before an operation may sell, label or represent their products as organic (or use the USDA organic seal), it must undergo a 3-year transition period where any land used to produce raw organic commodities must be left untreated with prohibited substances.
Products made with more than 95% organic ingredients may bear the USDA organic seal. Products made with less than 95% but more than 70% organic ingredients, may not bear the seal but may advertise their products as “made with organic ingredients”. Also, USDA ingredients from plants cannot be genetically modified.
In the EU, organic farming is defined as an agricultural method that aims to produce food using natural substances and processes. The EU set rules that limit the environmental impact, ensure a high standard of animal welfare, prohibit GMOs and limit the use of artificial herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers.
The development of the EU organic label was based on Denmark's organic food policy and the rules behind the Danish organic food label currently holds the highest rate of recognition among its users in the world. The current EU organic label (the EU leaf) is meant to signal to the consumer that at least 95% of the ingredients used in the processed organic food is from organic origin.
Ecocert is an organic certification organization, acting as a certifying authority representing the regulations in countries such as the EU and the US. It is based in Europe but conducts inspections in over 80 countries, making it one of the largest organic certification organizations in the world.
Ecocert primarily certifies food and food products, but also certifies cosmetics, detergents, perfumes, and textiles. Ecocert is also a leading certifier of Fair Trade food, cosmetics and textiles as per Ecocert Fair Trade standards.
Apart from adopting national regulations, Ecocert also sets its own standards regarding cosmetic products and detergents, which ensure the use of ingredients from renewable resources and processed through environmentally friendly processes as well as a minimum threshold of natural ingredients from organic farming. Ecocert “Eco” cosmetic standards require at least 50% of natural products to be of organic farming, while the "Bio" standards require at least 95% of natural products to be of organic farming.
The Soil Association is a charity based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1946, it has over 27,000 members today. Its activities include campaign work on issues including opposition to intensive farming, support for local purchasing and public education on nutrition; as well the certification of organic food.
It developed the world's first organic certification system in 1967 – standards which have since widened to encompass agriculture, aquaculture, ethical trade, food processing, forestry, health & beauty, horticulture and textiles. Today it certifies over 80% of organic produce in the UK. The Soil Association also played a leading role in the development of the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and the Cosmos standard.
The Soil Association requirements are no less stringent than those of EU regulations.
Cosmos (COSMetic Organic Standard) is a European-wide private standard developed by five founding members: BDIH (Germany), Cosmebio (France), ECOCERT Greenlife SAS (France), ICEA (Italy) and the Soil Association (Great Britain).
In the past, each of these organizations had their own competing standards. However, they recognised it was in the best interests of both the industry and consumers to have a single, international standard for organic and natural cosmetics. Only this would ensure a level playing field and efficient operation for companies, clarity and confidence for consumers, coupled with effective progress towards sustainable development.
COSMOS has adopted the following principles: promote the use of ingredients from organic farming, promote the use production and processing processes that respect the environment and human health and integrate and develop the concept of "green chemistry". Cosmos has both natural- and bio-type certifications and is considered stricter and more rigorous than the standards of each individual organization.
ACO Certification Ltd
ACO Certification Ltd is Australia’s largest certifier for organic and biodynamic produce and has over 2000 operators within its certification system. ACO provides certification services to operators from all sectors of the organic industry. Certification ensures compliance with national and many international production standards and allows trace back of all products to their origin.
ACO also has its own set of standards, which is one of the most respected and rigorous standards in the world for organic production. The ACO standard focuses not only on “chemical free”, but also the whole system of growing and handling food. To have the ACO logo, 95% of plant ingredients must be of organic origin.
Organic Food Chain
The Organic Food Chain Pty Ltd (OFC) is an approved organic certifying organisation recognised by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The Australian national standards are equally as respected as the regulations set out in the US and the EU, with standards around livestock, soil management, plant production, aquaculture and processed ingredients.
Products made with more than 95% organic ingredients may bear the OFC logo. Products made with less than 95% but more than 70% organic ingredients, may not bear the seal but may advertise their products as “made with organic ingredients”. Also, ingredients from plants cannot be genetically modified.
NSF International is an American product testing, inspection and certification organization. Like Ecocert, it acts as a certifying authority representing the regulations in North America.
QAI, a leading organic certification organization that is part of the NSF International family of companies, can certify personal care products to the USDA National Organic Program and to NSF/ANSI 305: personal care products containing organic ingredients. Products that contain at least 70% certified organic ingredients, but which do not meet the USDA food-focused requirements due to cosmetic industry chemical processes and production methods, can be certified to NSF/ANSI 305.
Oregon Tilth is an American nonprofit membership organization dedicated to supporting and advocating organic food and farming. Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO), the certification program of the organization, engages in certification activities for agricultural producers, product manufacturers and other handlers of organic products.
The OTCO Program also offers assessment for compliance with several different organic certification standards, such as the USDA National Organic Program, the European Organic Program (EEC 2092/91), and the Canadian Organic Regime. Other organic standards are established by industry working groups, such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Cosmebio is an organic cosmetic certification organization based in France and one of the founding members of the Cosmos standards. Cosmebio provides 2 types of certifications. The “natural” certification requires at least 95% of all ingredients to be of natural origin. The “bio” certification requires the “natural” certification and in addition requires at least 95% of the plant-based ingredients to be of organic origin
Eko Quality Mark
The Eko logo or quality mark is issued by Skal, an organic control authority based in the Netherlands. Businesses who wish to market organic food products in the Netherlands with the EKO quality mark may apply for an EKO-Certificate. For processed food products, at least 95% of the ingredients must be of organic origin to bear the quality mark. Skal is also the designated authority for ensuring compliance to EU organic regulations
The certified vegan logo is a registered trademark, for products that do not contain animal products, or by-products, and that have not been tested on animals and do not have any animal GMOs. The certified logo is easily visible to consumers interested in vegan products and helps vegans to shop without constantly consulting ingredient lists. It also helps companies recognize a growing vegan market, as well as bringing the word vegan—and the lifestyle it represents—into the mainstream.
Currently the two oldest and most respected vegan certification organizations in the world are Vegan Action (Vegan.org) and the Vegan Society.
Fair trade is an institutional arrangement designed to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions. Members of the fair trade movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards. The movement focuses on commodities, or products which are typically exported from developing countries to developed countries, but also consumed in domestic markets.
Fair for Life promotes an approach of Fair Trade that allows all producers and workers who are at a socio-economic disadvantage to access a wider range of social and economic benefits. Fair Trade is part of a broader context of sustainable development within a region that safeguards and supports the local social fabric, particularly in rural settings. These principles hold true equally well in the Global South as the Global North and apply throughout the whole supply chain covering producers, traders, manufacturers and brand holders.
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and non-profits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.
Global Organic Textile Standard
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres. The final products may include, but are not limited to fibre products, yarns, fabrics, clothes and home textiles.
The Non-GMO Project
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization focusing on genetically modified organisms. The organization began as an initiative of independent natural foods retailers in the U.S. and Canada, with the stated aim to label products produced in compliance with their Non-GMO Project Standard, which aims to prevent genetically modified foodstuffs from being present in retail food products.
Cruelty Free International
Cruelty Free International is an animal protection and advocacy group that campaigns for the abolition of all animal experiments. They organise certification of cruelty-free products which are marked with the symbol of a leaping bunny.
Fair Wild enables the transformation of resource management and business practices to be ecologically, socially and economically sustainable throughout the supply chain of wild-collected products. The aim is to provide a worldwide framework for implementing a sustainable, fair and value-added management and trading system for wild-collected natural ingredients and products thereof.
In France, organic certification was introduced in 1985. It has established a green-white logo of "AB - agriculture biologique." The certification for the AB label fulfills the EU regulations for organic food.
The AB certification mark, like the European organic logo, identifies products that are 100% organic or contain at least 95% organic agricultural products in the case of processed products. By delegation from the French Ministry of Agriculture, the certifying bodies issue the authorizations for use on the labels (certification mark AB).
India Organic is a certification mark for organically farmed food products manufactured in India. The certification mark certifies that an organic food product conforms to the National (Indian) Program for Organic Products (NPOP) established in 2000.
The NPOP standards for production and accreditation system have been recognized by European Commission and Switzerland for unprocessed plant products as equivalent to their country standards. Similarly, USDA has recognized NPOP conformity assessment procedures of accreditation as equivalent to that of US.
Established in 1992 and recognised across Europe and worldwide, the EU Ecolabel is a label of environmental excellence that is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards throughout their life-cycle: from raw material extraction, to production, distribution and disposal. The EU Ecolabel promotes the circular economy by encouraging producers to generate less waste and CO2 during the manufacturing process. The EU Ecolabel criteria also encourages companies to develop products that are durable, easy to repair and recycle.
1% for the Planet
One Percent for the Planet is an international organization whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes. Their mission is to "build, support and activate an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet." One Percent for the Planet members assist non-profit organizations that protect land, forests, rivers, oceans and also encourage sustainable methods of energy production.