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Industry Q&A: Oasis Founders Tim Kapsner and Karl Halpert

Posted: May 12, 2008

The May issue of P&F magazine takes a look at the confusing world of personal care/cosmetics organic standards, focusing on the newly minted Oasis label. Here, we continue our conversation with Oasis founding members Tim Kapsner (Aveda) and Karl Halpert (Private Label Select).

"Even though there aren’t any [organic personal care] regulations, there are some standards out there that customers are currently using that have different platforms and mean different things," says Kapsner, explaining why the current organic landscape is so daunting to consumers and industry alike. The research scientist points to the USDA organic food standard, intended for foods, which some personal care companies have adopted. "It’s inappropriately applied to cosmetic products," Kapsner says. He goes on to note ECOCERT's own private organic standard in Europe. Some of those products are now being marketed in the United States. "That standard has different regulations, and so consumers are seeing products that don’t have any labels on them or any logos. They’re seeing ECOCERT products; they’re seeing NOP products, so they’re completely confused."

Halpert says that industry response to the Oasis standard has been strong. "We have 30 companies signed up [at press time], even before the launch. It runs the gamut from global to tiny [companies]—brand names, suppliers, manufacturers. It’s been very gratifying because our whole aim has been to be an industry consensus standard. We endeavored to include as wide a spectrum as possible."

Kapsner explains that these member companies will take responsibility for getting the word out via their own outreach efforts. In addition, consumer awareness is expected to build as the Oasis label appears on store shelves.

"The Oasis board and the technical review committee will evaluate the standards on an ongoing basis to see when we’re ready to move that bar higher," says Kapsner, noting that organic content levels specified in the standard will eventually rise. "That’s the whole objective: continuous improvement for the applicants, the manufacturers and for Oasis."