OPINION: The NPA Home Care Natural Standard

Contact Author Jack Corley, Trilogy Fragrances
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NPA Home Care Products Seal

The NPA seal for home care products.

In December 2008, I met Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association (NPA) at the association’s headquarters in Washington, DC, with a view to explore the practicality of developing a natural product standard for household cleaning products. The collaboration between the NPA and a team of experts in the personal care industry, and the subsequent introduction of the NPA Natural Personal Care standard (May 2008) was the hallmark of our discussion. Clearly, the question before us was, “Does the spillover effect of the natural, green sustainability movement that has so clearly impacted personal care extend to home care products—specifically, the household cleaning and laundry category?” And as research indicated, that opportunities were plenty.

Market Research Indicators

According to Chicago-based market research firm, Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), total home care products sales (see F-1) (including “green”) ending Nov. 1, 2009 were:

  • Laundry detergent: $3.72 billion
  • Household cleaners: $1.5 billion
  • All-purpose cleaners: $393 million
  • Toilet deodorizers/cleaners: $250 million
  • Tub/tile cleaners: $235 million
  • Spray disinfectant: $111 million

Meanwhile, according to a Progressive Grocer magazine article (April 2009), “Consumers seeking ways to ‘go green’ and protect the environment and their families by avoiding chemicals are grabbing natural all-purpose household cleaners off store shelves at a record pace.” Mintel, a market research company based in Chicago, has projected growth in the category to reach $623 million by 2013. Considering the category has already grown from $17.7 million in 2003 to a whopping $64.5 million in 2008, this increase seems attainable. Then again, a recent Associated Press report suggested that when Clorox entered the green market in December 2007, the natural category accounted for only about 1% of the $12 billion spent on cleaning products (including industrial) each year in the United States. Although only out for a little over a year, Clorox's Green Works is the market leader in natural household cleaners, with 45% of category sales, according to Mintel. Finally, a recent national survey* found that natural ingredients are important to consumers; 78% of those surveyed said there should be regulations/standards for natural home care products; 72% believed it’s important that ingredients in home care products are natural; and 73% said they are more likely to purchase a home care product if they know it is certified as natural.

The Outcome: NPA Seal for Home Care Products

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In response to the above industry indications, the NPA has extended its seal and standard to include home care products such as household cleaners, laundry detergents and the other categories detailed earlier. This will help consumers discern which products are natural (according to NPA). Shoppers can expect the seal to begin appearing on certified home care products in the coming months. Of this,  Fabricant says, “This new standard for home care products is the next step in returning the integrity to the word natural. A number of products that mainly [use] synthetics are being positioned as natural. This leads to significant consumer confusion about the category and the products people are choosing.”

The NPA home care natural standard is science-based and, like the personal care natural standard before it, has been developed by a team of advisers from the NPA and home care manufacturers including Green Works, Seventh Generation, JR Watkins, Cognis, Trilogy Fragrances, Aubrey Organics, PCC Natural Markets, Green Mountain, EcoMe, and Sun & Earth. The advisory panel drew from a variety of sources, including relevant international standards, third-party organizations, existing research and years of experience in the field.

Certification Criteria

The following is the initial standard as of Feb. 11, 2010. The full set of criteria can be found on the NPA’s Web site. The standard requires natural ingredients to be made with the illustrative allowed processes listed in the sidebar.The new program requires products to follow strict guidelines set out by the NPA to merit the seal. The criteria include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Product must comprise at least 95% truly natural ingredients or ingredients that are derived from natural sources
  • No ingredients with any potential suspected human health risks
  • No processes that significantly or adversely alter the purity/effect of the natural ingredients
  • Ingredients that come from a purposeful, renewable/plentiful source found in nature (flora, fauna, mineral)
  • Processes that are minimal and don't use synthetic/harsh chemicals or otherwise dilute purity
  • Non-natural ingredients only when viable natural alternative ingredients are unavailable and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks
  • Transparency and full disclose of ingredients per CSPA Voluntary Ingredient Communications Program
  • No animal testing
  • Transparency and full disclosure of ingredients on product label per CSPA Voluntary Ingredient Communications Program
  • Compliance with FTC and NAD guidelines
  • Certificant must strive to maximize use of recyclable and PCR materials in packaging
  • All ingredient information (i.e. raw material sources, processing information) must be disclosed in submission documentation
  • 60% of the brand must qualify for NPA Natural Certification regardless of whether 60% actually undergoes certification
  • Product certification term is two years and products will be reviewed every two years to maintain certification

An allowed synthetic non-natural ingredient (see Appendix) can be used only when:

  • There is not a readily available, commercially viable, natural alternative ingredient equivalent
  • There are no suspected human health hazards as identified by appearing in the authoritative lists of prohibited ingredients
  • Required for trade-acceptable product
  • Made using allowed processes
  • Synthetic does not appear on the prohibited processes nor prohibited ingredients list below.
  • Synthetic ingredients may not be used at more than a 5% cumulative level in the total formula (calculations do not include water).

The standard further prohibits ingredients that:

  • Are animal-based materials where the animal is harmed
  • Are byproducts of animal renderings
  • Have suspected human health hazards as indicated by authoritative organizations and appear on prohibited substance lists, i.e. no carcinogens (1), mutagens (2) or reproductive toxicants (3); no endocrine disruptors (4); no ingredients identified as hazardous waste (5); and no environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative or toxic compounds (5)**
  • Are made with, but not limited to the following processes:
    • Processes which are inconsistent with the 12 Principles of Green Engineering (6)
    • Processes which create undesirable by-products or impurities such as 1,4-dioxane, parabens, heavy metals, formaldehyde, such as: benzene processing which creates parabens; acidification of ethoxylates which produces 1,4 dioxane; petrolatum/mineral oil/paraffin produced from petrochemical sources which contain undesirable impurities
    • Processes which create carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, or endocrine disruptors
    • Processes which use ingredients or create byproducts that could become hazardous waste
    • Processes which use or create environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic, or neurotoxic compounds
    • Processes which use animal by-products where the animal is harmed

The following is an illustrative list of classifications of ingredients that are prohibited includes:

  • Parabens: Synthetic preservatives that are potential endocrine disruptors petrolatum/mineral oil/paraffin: Non-renewable by-products of crude oil with potentially dangerous impurities
  • Synthetic glycols: Petroleum derived synthetic chemicals that can potentially draw other chemicals into the bloodstream
  • Phthalates: Synthetic fragrance components that are potential toxins
  • Ethoxylated ingredients: Like sodium myreth sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, PEGs or PPGs, which are made in part with the petrochemical ethylene oxide and results in 1,4-dioxane as a trace contaminant (1,4-dioxane classified as a possible carcinogen)
  • Ethanolamines like MEA/DEA/TEA: Foam and viscosity boosting ingredients that can interact with other ingredients to form nitrosamines, a known carcinogen
  • Synthetic polymers (PVP/acrylates): That contain residual PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
  • Formaldehyde donors (DMDM hydantoin/diazolidinyl urea): Preservatives that work by releasing formaldehyde

For a longer list of prohibited ingredients, see sidebar.

The NPA Seal: Terms and Conditions

In 2010, consumers will begin to see the NPA seal (pictured) on home care products. NPA member and non-member suppliers whose products have been audited by an NPA standard and certification program for natural home care products auditor and found to be in compliance, shall have the right to utilize the program’s certification seal (Natural Standard Seal) for natural home care products that have been reviewed and certified “natural” under the following terms and conditions:

  • For the purposes of the Natural Standard Certification Program, the term “supplier” shall be defined as any company that designs, manufacturers, fabricates, assembles, or processes a natural home care product. This includes contract manufacturers, specification developers, repackers, relabelers and private label distributors of home care products.
  • The Natural Products Association member supplier can use the seal as provided in these Terms of Use indefinitely, provided that:
    • the formulation certified does not change
    • the member of the association must be a member in good standing (has paid dues and fulfilled other membership requirements)
    • the member supplier makes timely payment of the renewal fee in the Natural Products Association Certification Seal and Award for Natural Home Care Products (for which the manufacturer/member supplier will be separately billed)
    • no verifiable information comes to Natural Products Association's or the Steering Committees’ attention that products advertised or promoted under the Seal have fallen out of essential compliance with Natural Standard Certification Program standard
  • Only companies with home care products that are certified under the Natural Products Association Standard and Certification Program for Natural Home Care Products may reference the program, or their compliance with the program, in any or all of their advertising. Natural Standard Certification Program companies are required to prohibit companies that they manufacture, package, label, and warehouse or distribute for from referencing the Natural Standard Certification Program in any or all of their advertising, unless that company’s products have also been reviewed and certified under the Natural Products Association Natural Certification Program.


* Based on a national online survey of 1,002 consumers with partner Braun Research on Sept. 17, 2009, about natural home care products. The findings have a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

** (1)Carcinogens: IARC Group 1, 2A, 2B; REACH Carcinogens 1, 2; NTP – Known or Reasonably Anticipated Human Carcinogens; EPA IRIS; Prop 65 Carcinogen (relevant exposures for consumer product use or manufacturing); NIOSH Potential Carcinogen; EPA IRIS Carcinogen Assessment; (2) Mutagens: REACH Mutagen Category 2; (3) Reproductive and Developmental: Prop 65 Devel; Prop 65 Male, Female Repro; REACH Repro Tox 1, 2; (4) Endocrine Disruptors: EU Cat 1, 2 and with data quality category DQ1; (5) Hazardous Waste: RCRA lists U, P, D 6 CERCLA/SARA 313 PBT; EU POPs; RCRA Waste Minimization; EPA Priority; Interim Review for the Strategy for Cooperation and Networking Between EU Member States and EFSA PBT Assessment; EU vPvT; (6)


Allowed synthetic (AS) ingredients (those temporarily allowed in the initial phase of this standard):

  1. Non-paraben, non-formaldehyde-donating synthetic preservatives
    • Methylisothiazolinone
    • Phenoxyethanol
    • Dehydroacetic acid
  2. Non-phthalate, non-irritating synthetic fragrances
  3. Nontoxic synthetic colorants


  • Total use of allowable synthetic ingredients may not exceed 5% of the total formula (calculated without water)
  • These synthetic ingredients are targeted to be eliminated in Phase II of the standard currently set for 2012
  • Compliance with INCI labeling standards will be phased in 2 years from launch (consumer-relevant labeling is allowed in addition to INCI labeling).









Data on Home care products sales

Illustrative list of prohibited ingredients

Prohibited ingredients – illustrative (i.e., non-exhaustive) list

  1. By Types/Classes:
    • Synthetic Petrochemical Ingredients
    • Synthetic Preservatives not otherwise specifically allowed
    • Compounds with “ethoxylate”, “PEG” or the suffix “-eth” in the ingredient name
    • Compounds with “sarcosinate” in the ingredient name
    • Compounds with "MEA", "DEA" or "TEA" in the ingredient name
    • Compounds with “taurate” in the ingredient name
    • Compounds with “sultaine” in the ingredient name
    • Compounds with “sulfosuccinate” in the ingredient name
    • Compounds with “PPG” in the ingredient name
  2. By Specific ingredients:
    • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
    • Amodimethicone
    • Behentrimonium Methosulfate
    • Butylene glycol
    • Carbomer
    • Ceteareth-20
    • Cetrimonium Chloride
    • Coco DEA
    • Cocoamidopropyl Betaine
    • Cyclopentasiloxane
    • Diazolidinyl Urea
    • Dimethicone
    • Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate
    • EDTA
    • EthylHexylGlycerin
    • Glycereth-7 Cocoate
    • Isoceteth 20
    • Isopropyl Palmitate
    • Lauramide MEA
    • Lauryl DEA
    • Methoxycinnamate
    • Olefin Sulfonate
    • Oleyl Betaine
    • Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, etc.)
    • PEG-150 Distearate
    • PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate
    • Polyquaternium 10
    • Propylene Glycol
    • Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
    • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
    • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
    • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
    • Sodium Lauryl Carboxylate
    • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
    • Sodium Myreth Sulfate
    • Soyamidopropalkonium Chloride
    • Stearamidopropyl Dimethyl Amine


Includes synthetic silicone or petroleum compounds that are not specifically excepted elsewhere in the standard.

Approved Processes compared to other standards

Amination Yes
Distillation yes yes yes yes
Esterification/Transesterification yes yes yes yes
Etherification     yes yes
Fat-splitting yes yes yes  
Fermentation yes      
Glucosidation yes yes yes yes
hydrogenation yes yes yes yes
Hydrogenolysis yes yes yes yes
Hydrolysis yes yes yes yes
Oxidation yes      
Protein fragment acylation yes yes yes yes
Saponification yes yes yes yes
Sulfaction yes yes yes yes

Illustrative list of Allowed Processes

Amination of Alcohols and Fatty Acids
Reagents: AAmmonia, alkyl amine
Catalysts: Nickel, palladium, various known other reducing agents
Agricultural inputs: Alcohols, acids, aldehydes, ketones
Description: The process of introducing an amine into an alcohol or fatty acid.

Distillation of Essential Oils
Reagents: Water (high-pressure steam)
Catalysts: None
Agricultural inputs: Plant material (flowers, herbs, spices, etc.)
Description: The physical process to acquire essential oils from plant material.

Esterification OR Transesterification to Produce Esters
Reagents: None
Catalysts: Sulfuric/phosphoric acid; KCO3, NaCO3, NaOH, or KOH
Agricultural inputs: Acid and alcohol, e.g. fatty alcohol, glycerin, ethanol, acetic acid
Description: The process of forming an ester bond between and acid and an alcohol, can be catalyzed by either an alkali or acid.

Etherification of Glycerin making PolyGlyceryls
Reagents: None
Catalysts: Alkali (NaOH or KOH)
Agricultural inputs: Glycerin (product of fat-splitting)
Description: The process of forming ether bonds between two compounds of natural glycerin (see fat-splitting) to form polyglyceryls by heating with an alkali. Polyglyceryl products are indicated with a number to represent the number of glycerin molecules linked together.

Fat-Splitting of Oils to Produce Glycerin and Fatty Acids
Reagents: Water (high-pressure steam)
Catalysts: Metal/metal compound catalysts (zinc oxide, nickel, palladium, platinum)
Agricultural inputs: Triglyceride fats and oils; carbohydrates, sugars
Description: The process of splitting natural fats and oils into glycerin and fatty acids, a kind of hydrolysis.

Reagents: None
Catalysts: Enzymes
Agricultural inputs: Carbohydrates, sugars, bacteria, yeasts, fungi
Description: The process of converting carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide or organic acids.

Glucosidation of Fatty Alcohol and Glucose
Reagents: None
Catalysts: Toluene Sulfonic acid
Agricultural inputs: Glucose and fatty alcohol
Description: The process of attaching glucose to an alcohol, a type of etherification (e.g. coco glucoside).

Hydrogenation of Oils
Reagents: Hydrogen
Catalysts: Nickel, Platinum or palladium
Agricultural inputs: Triglyceride fat/oil usually
Description: The process by which unsaturated bonds are reduced by the addition of hydrogen with a catalyst, specifically converting unsaturated fatty acids to saturated ones or waxes to oils.

Hydrogenolysis of Methyl Esters of an Oil to Make Fatty Alcohols
Reagents: Hydrogen from natural gas
Catalysts: Methanol; nickel, platinum, palladium
Agricultural inputs: Methyl or ethyl ester of triglyceride fat/oil (fat/oil original ag input)
Description: The process by which hydrogen is utilized to break chemical bonds converting a fatty acid ester into the fatty alcohol and methyl or ethyl alcohol (whichever is used for the ester). This process can also be utilized directly on the fatty acid without conversion to the ester first.

Hydrolysis of Complex Proteins into Simple Amino Acids
Reagents: Water
Catalysts: Enzymes or alkali (KOH or NaOH)
Agricultural inputs: proteins, carbohydrates, sugars
Description: The process of breaking down complex proteins into water-soluble amino acids or peptides (if partially hydrolyzed).

Oxidation with Mild Agents
Reagents: Dilute H2O2, O2, silver and copper salts
Catalysts: silver, copper
Agricultural inputs: Plant-based alcohols, aldehydes
Description: The process by which alcohols and aldehydes are converted to acids by oxidation.

Protein Fragment Acylation to make e.g. Cocoyl Glutamate
Reagents: KOH or NaOH
Catalysts: Phosphorous trichloride or thionyl chloride
Agricultural inputs: Fatty acid and protein fragment
Description: The process of attaching a fatty acid to a nitrogen-containing compound. The fatty acid is converted to a fatty acid chloride before attachment to the nitrogen of a protein fragment (e.g. glutamic acid).

Saponification of Oils to Make Soap
Reagents: Alkali (KOH or NaOH)
Catalysts: None
Agricultural inputs: Triglyceride fats and oils
Description: The process by which fats or oils are split into the glycerin and the free fatty acids by the addition of an alkali, a type of hydrolysis.

Sulfation of Fatty Alcohol to make e.g. Sodium Coco Sulfate
Reagents: Sulfate/SO3 and NaOH
Catalysts: None
Agricultural inputs: Fatty alcohol
Additional note: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) from petrochemical sources not allowed Description: The process of converting a fatty alcohol into the sulfate ester to produce a surfactant.

Sulfonation of Non-Alcohols to make Sulfonated Anionics (α-olefins, methyl esters, etc.)
Reagents: SO2, SO3, Sulfuric acid
Catalysts: Metal/metal compound catalysts (copper, palladium)
Agricultural inputs: Methyl or Ethyl Ester of Triglyceride fat/oil (fat/oil original ag input), or α-olefin via dehydrated plant-based alcohol
Description: The process by which an SO3 group is attached to the carbon atom of α-olefins or esters.


FAQs for NPA’s Natural Standard for Home Care Products

Q: What is the Natural Standard?
A: To help you identify truly natural products and maximize your well-being, the Natural Products Association (NPA) and other leading companies that are committed to natural home care have developed The Natural Standard for Home Care Products. The standard is a set of guidelines that identifies ingredients and processes that can and cannot be considered natural and ultimately, whether a product can be deemed truly “natural.” Under the standard, any product labeled “natural” must meet the following four criteria:

  1. Natural: A product labeled “natural” should be made up of natural ingredients and be manufactured with appropriate processes to maintain ingredient purity.
  2. Safety: A product labeled “natural” should avoid any ingredient that has peer-reviewed, scientific research showing human health or environmental risk.
  3. Responsibility: A product labeled “natural” should use no animal testing in its development.
  4. Sustainability: A product labeled “natural” should use (bio)degradable ingredients and the most environmentally sensitive packaging.

Ultimately, The Natural Standard for Home Care Products aims to clearly define what a “natural” home care product is and what it is not. The standard encompasses all home care products including laundry detergents, dish detergents, and concentrated and ready-to-use hard surface cleaners. The standard currently does not include air fresheners.

Q: How does the NPA define natural for the Natural Standard for Home Care Products?
A: The Natural Standard for Home Care Products states that all home care products labeled or branded “natural” must be made with at least 95% all-natural ingredients, not including water. The standard also requires that companies:

  • be transparent, fully disclosing their ingredients accurately and truthfully
  • strive to maximize their use of recyclable and post-consumer recycled content in packaging of NPA-recognized products
  • avoid animal testing of finished products.

Q: How can you spot truly natural products?
A: Look for the NPA Natural Seal. Helping you to clearly understand and identify truly natural products is a key element of The Natural Standard for Home Care Products. You can rest assured that products carrying the Natural Seal truly are natural.

Q: Are NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products 100% natural?
A: Our threshold for natural certification is at least 95%, not including water, of ingredients must be natural. While 100% is not always possible, the 95% level sets a meaningful and rigorous standard that recognizes a commitment to meet the consumer demand for natural products. Any synthetic ingredients used in NPA products have no suspected human or environmental health risks.

Q: What does the NPA consider "natural" ingredients, and what ingredients are prohibited under the NPA’s Certification for Home Care Products?
A: All natural ingredients must come from a resource found in nature (Flora, Fauna, Mineral), with absolutely no petroleum products. Ingredients with some non-natural contribution are allowed as long as the non-natural contribution is less than 5% of the total formula (not including water) and abide by allowed processes. Many ingredients are not permitted, including:

  • Carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxins
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Ingredients which could become hazardous waste
  • Environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative, or toxic compounds
  • Neurotoxic compounds
  • Animal by-products where the animal is harmed

Q: Have NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products been tested on animals?
A: No. NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products are NOT permitted to be tested on animals.

Q: What ingredients are required to be revealed?
A: Per CSPA Voluntary Ingredient Communications Program, all NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products support transparency and full disclosure of ingredients. Ingredient labeling for Natural Home Care Products follow personal care conventions (INCI) for labeling.

Q: Does the NPA natural certification contain requirements for recyclable packaging?
The current standard for NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products encourages, but does not require, member companies to maximize their use of recyclable and PCR materials in packaging.

 Q: What processes are ingredients allowed to undergo?
A: NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products are minimally processed. An illustrative list of allowable processes is as follows:

  • Saponification of Oils
  • Hydrolysis of Complex Proteins
  • Distillation of Essential Oils
  • Fat-Splitting of Oils
  • Etherification of Glycerin
  • Esterification or Transesterification
  • Amination of Alcohols and Acids
  • Hydrogenation of Oils
  • Hydrogenolysis of Methyl Esters
  • Glucosidation of Fatty Alcohol
  • Sulfation of Fatty Alcohol
  • Sulfonation of Non-Alcohols
  • Protein Fragment Acylation
  • Fermentation
  • Oxidation with Hydrogen Peroxide

Q: Are any synthetic ingredients allowed in NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products?
A: Synthetic materials are allowed only when:

  • no equivalent, commercially available/viable performance/value natural material exists
  • they present no human health or environmental risk in the product
  • the synthetic material does not appear on the list of Prohibited Ingredients
  • their total weight percentage does not exceed 5% of a formula, not including water
  • abide by allowed processes for the NPA natural standard

Q: Are synthetic colors/fragrances allowed in NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products?
A: Temporarily. Completely natural fragrances and colorants will be required within two years from launch of the standard. Synthetic fragrance and colors without suspected human health or environmental risk will be allowed for a maximum of two years after the launch of the standard

Q: Are any preservatives allowed in NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products?
A: The safety of consumers is of utmost importance to the NPA and its member consortium. Delivering natural products, free from microbial contamination, is paramount to ensuring consumer safety. At present, every effort is made to formulate products that do not require the use of preservatives. For some products, however, that is not possible; in these cases, a choice has been made to use the most environmentally friendly and safest preservatives in the smallest concentration possible to be effective.

Q: Are NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products hypo-allergenic?
A: No. There is no defined methodology to test for allergic reactions in home care products, nor does the FDA regulate use of the term "hypoallergenic." Consequently, the NPA does not position NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products as hypoallergenic. These products contain safe and effective ingredients and do not contain petroleum-synthesized fillers that may irritate the skin. A list of ingredients for each NPA-certified Natural Home Care Product is available on individual product labels.

Q: Are NPA-certified Natural Home Care Products safe for pets?
A: Although NPA-certified products are never tested on animals, the products are made from natural ingredients that are safe for both humans and pets, when used as directed. Home care products are not meant for consumption. Contact your veterinarian if you have concerns about using a product around your pet or if you have a pet that has ingested a product.

Q: Which member companies comprise the NPA steering committee that developed the Natural Standard for Home Care Products?
A: Green Works, Seventh Generation, JR Watkins, Cognis, Trilogy Fragrances, Aubrey Organics, PCC Natural Markets, Green Mountain, EcoMe, and Sun & Earth.

Q: The US government certifies products as ‘organic’ with its USDA Organic standard. Doesn’t the US government have a similar accreditation for ‘natural?’
A: No. The US government does not have a standard certification for “natural” products. Because consumers want to know what products are truly natural, the NPA has developed the Natural Standard for Home Care Product (similar to the Natural Standard for Personal Care Products that it launched in 2008) in order to help consumers identify which home care products are truly natural.

Q: What is the process to have my products certified as natural through the Natural Certification Program for Home Care Products?
A: Review the Natural Standard Website and related program materials including the information about the certification steps. This includes reviewing the NPA Natural Standard and Allowed List of Processes and Ingredients to determine if your products fit the criteria established in the Natural Standard. The next step would be to assemble the required company and product documentation (see the application packet) and program templates and submit your materials per the instructions in the application packet. Details available at

Q: How long does the certification process take?
Depending on the completeness of the materials submitted, generally the certification process will take between two to four weeks—once the association has received ALL necessary company, product line, product and ingredient information necessary for the third-party review audit. Providing additional details, such as International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) nomenclature and/or Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) numbers for your ingredients, will help facilitate the audit review and may shorten the time necessary to complete the certification.

Q: The program says that to qualify for natural certification, a company’s home care product line must offer at least 60 percent natural products. Can you please explain this requirement?
A: The 60 percent requirement pertains to your natural home care product line. Sixty percent of all of your company’s natural home care line must meet the criteria for natural certification, even if you are seeking natural certification for less than 60 percent of this product line. We require that firms submit information regarding their eligible products with their application. Usually, this takes the form of product labels and/or spreadsheets with ingredient declarations for the products that are not applying for certification.

Q: All my home care products are natural. Can I get my company certified or do I still need to have each product certified?
A: The association’s certification for home care products is a product certification program, not a company certification program. Therefore, the program certifies products only and you must submit appropriate documentation for each home care product you want to be certified as natural.

Q: What information do I have to submit for each product that I want to be certified?
A: The program application packet specifies what company, product and ingredient information must be submitted for certification. Company-specific information, such as the executive summary of the company's organizational structure and the site quality summary only needs to be submitted once. Product-specific information, however, such as product labels, quantitative formulas, master batch and manufacturing records, ingredient specifications and COAs, must be submitted with each product. Sample spec/tech sheets and matrices can be viewed here.

Q: If I use the same formula for several products, that is, spray cleaner that are different colors or scents, do I still have to pay a certification fee for each certified product?

Q: What if I use the same SKU for more than one product? Do I pay the certification fee for each certified product?
A: Yes.

Q: If I have the same product in several different sizes, do I still have to pay a certification fee for each SKU of that product?
No, however you do need to submit documents on the different sizes to ensure that they are indeed the same formulation.

Q: My operation is very small and the fees are too high, but my products would qualify for certification. Do you have a sliding or cheaper rate for small companies?
There is no quantity discount for the certification of multiple products through the program. The program fees cover both the cost of the third-party review audit and licensing for the use of the logo for each product certified for two years. Keep in mind the value the natural certification would bring your company. You would have the opportunity to put the Natural Seal on your certified products as well as having your certified products listed on the Natural Products Association Web site. There has been tremendous consumer outreach for this program, resulting in high consumer and retailer recognition of the program seal and confidence that a product bearing the association’s Natural Seal is in fact natural. There is, however, a sliding scale regarding association membership.

Q: How do I know what raw materials and processes I can use?
A: Become familiar with the Natural Standard [link] and Allowed List of Processes and Ingredients [link] to determine what ingredients and processes are allowed or prohibited.

Q: What if I have a question about a specific ingredient? What if my product has a natural ingredient in it that isn’t on the “Illustrative Positive” list?
A: If you have a question about a specific ingredient that is not on the Illustrative “Allowed” list or in the Natural Standard under the “Prohibited” section, please contact the Natural Products Association at

Q: Do you have a separate list of “Allowed Synthetics?”
Not at present, but it is currently in development.

Q: I am not a U.S.-based business. Can I get my products certified?
A: Yes. If your company’s products meet the criteria for natural certification we will certify your products for the NPA Natural Seal in the United States.

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