To protect and equip consumers to maximize their well being, NPA developed the Natural Standard and Certification for Home Care Products. Launched in February 2010, the NPA Natural Standard is a set of guidelines that dictate whether a product can be deemed truly “natural.” The standard encompasses home care products such as household cleaners, laundry detergents, and concentrated and ready to use hard-surface cleaners. Under the program, products certified under the NPA Natural Home Care Standard can bear the NPA Natural Seal.
Until the NPA standard, there was no definition of the term “natural” used by the home care industry. With the launch of the NPA Natural Standard and Certification for Home Care Products, consumers can look for the easily identifiable seal to discern which home care products are truly natural.
The Essence of the NPA Natural Standard for Home Care Products
The NPA Natural Standard for Home Care Products is based on natural ingredients, safety, responsibility and sustainability.
- Natural Ingredients: A product labeled “natural” should be made up of only, or at least almost only, natural ingredients and be manufactured with appropriate processes.
- Safety: A product labeled “natural” should avoid any ingredient that has peer-reviewed, scientific research showing human health or environmental risk.
- Responsibility: A product labeled “natural” should use no animal testing in its development except where required by law.
- Sustainability: A product labeled “natural” should use biodegradable ingredients and the most environmentally sensitive packaging.
The Natural Certification Program and Seal of Approval
Under this program, products must follow strict guidelines set out by NPA to merit the seal. The criteria include, but are not limited to:
- Product must be made up of at least 95 percent truly natural ingredients or ingredients that are derived from natural sources, excluding water
- No ingredients with any suspected human health risks
- No processes that significantly or adversely alter the natural ingredients
- Ingredients that come from a purposeful, natural source (flora, fauna, mineral)
- Processes that are minimal and don’t use synthetic/harsh chemicals
- Non-natural ingredients only when no viable natural alternative ingredient are available and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks
Transparency and full disclosure of ingredients per CSPA Voluntary Ingredient Communications Program utilizing INCI labeling standards for each ingredient, the substance must be listed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA when used in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and contain no residues of heavy metals or other contaminants in excess of tolerances set by the FDA or the EPA or has been reviewed using criteria in this Standard. NPA has developed the NPA Illustrative List as a reference document for the NPA Natural Standard and Certification Program for home care products.
The NPA Illustrative List includes ingredients that may be allowed for products certified under the NPA Natural Standard because they meet the NPA definition of natural or they are allowed synthetics under the NPA Natural Standard. This list is not definitive and even though an ingredient is included on this list, it may not be accepted in all available forms. For example, an ingredient on the list may be available in both a natural (and natural sourced) form and synthetic (or synthetic sourced) form. In these cases, only those from the natural sources would be allowed. For those ingredients that are available in both natural and synthetic forms, NPA may require documentation such as purchase orders and batch records to verify that only the natural sourced ingredient is being used in NPA-certified natural products.
To determine if an ingredient is appropriate for an NPA-Certified Natural Product, manufacturers must evaluate the ingredient to assure that it is made with raw materials from natural sources, verify it has been manufactured using the allowed ecological processes outlined in the NPA Natural Standard, and that the ingredient does not contain any prohibited substances identified in the Natural Standard. Manufacturers and retailers can find the definition of Natural, and a list description of allowed and prohibited ingredients and processes within the appendix of the Natural Standard for Home Care Products. For a list of allowed commonly used ingredients, refer to the NPA Illustrative List.
The Natural Standard for Home Care Products requires that companies be transparent, fully disclosing their ingredients accurately and truthfully. They should strive to maximize their use of recyclable and post-consumer recycled content in packaging. And no animal testing of ingredients or products is allowed.
Companies must also provide verifiable information regarding all company home care products to confirm that 60 percent of the home care products in that brand line meet the NPA Natural Standard requirements.
The Natural Standard for Home Care Products Now and Tomorrow
The initial standard is high enough to have real meaning, yet attainable for home care brands that have the intention of being truly natural and currently use high levels of natural ingredients. Over time, the NPA Natural Standard for Home Care Products may harmonize with other global natural and organic standards as appropriate to lessen industry and consumer confusion with differing standards.
What the NPA Natural Seal Means to You
Consumers: The standard will help you become more educated about ingredients and processes considered natural. It gives consumers the information you need to easily identify which home care products meet the standard for natural, and make the best decisions when choosing products. Learn more.
Industry: The NPA Natural Standard for Home Care Products will help you produce and bring to market home care products that meet the definition of natural created by the industry’s oldest and largest trade association for natural products. It gives manufacturers, suppliers and retailers the information and tools you need to maintain high levels of consistency among products labeled “natural,” as well as inform consumers about how to identify truly natural home care products. Learn more.
Apply for Certification for Home Care Products & Ingredients
Download: Product Application or Ingredient Application
1. Review NPA Natural Standard and Certification Program Materials
Become familiar with the NPA Natural Standard to determine if all product ingredients are from natural renewable sources (flora, fauna, mineral), free of prohibited substances, and manufactured using only allowed ecological processes listed in the NPA Natural Standard.
2. Submit Application
Complete the application and all other related documents. The application must be complete and include payment before a product will be sent to the auditor for review. A complete application must include the following applicant information: the completed application, the signed Natural Home Care Certification Program Agreement a Site Quality Summary for each manufacturing site, a Company Product Matrix, and the Company Product Lines Worksheet. The application packet must also include the following documentation for each product: a copy of the product label; product certification matrix; quantitative formula (raw material breakdown); ingredient documentation including tech/spec sheets, MSDS, COAs and product and/or manufacturing instructions where appropriate; citations of regulatory status for color additives; a signed affidavit attesting to their compliance with existing federal and state laws and regulations; and additional documents as requested by NPA or the auditor. An officer of the company should sign the Natural Home Care Certification Program Agreement. NPA and the auditing company will sign a confidentiality agreement, if requested.
3. Audit Review Goal
The goal of the review is to confirm compliance of the product to the Natural Standard and assign a percentage (%) natural to each product reviewed for the Natural Certification Program. The audit is based on a review of the product and ingredient documentation and therefore the documentation must be comprehensive and complete. NPA may request additional information from companies to verify products and ingredients do not contain prohibited substances and are manufactured using only the allowed ecological processes identified in the NPA Natural Standard.
4. Audit Review Process
During the audit process, all pertinent product and ingredient documentation will be reviewed. If there are outstanding issues with the product, the auditor will notify NPA and NPA will contact the company. The company will address outstanding issues and submit necessary documentation to NPA that confirms that appropriate action has been taken. Once outstanding issues have been addressed, the auditor will complete a review report utilizing NPA’s audit report protocol. Compliance and deficiencies will be evaluated based on the NPA Standard and Certification Program for Natural Home Care Products requirements. The completed review report and level of compliance (recorded as “% Natural”) to the standard will be forwarded to NPA for review. If the product is at least 95 percent natural based on the audit report findings, NPA will certify the product for two years.
5. Certification and Use of Seal
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the process to have my products certified as natural through the Natural Certification Program for home care products?
We recommend you begin by reviewing the Natural Standard and related program materials including the information about the certification steps. If you decide you are interested in pursuing natural certification for your home care products, you should review 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 is 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. If you have any questions about the process, please contact NPA at email@example.com
How long does the certification process take?
Generally the certification process will take between 4-6 weeks once NPA has received ALL the required documentation necessary for the third-party review audit. Complete transparency with NPA staff and providing the full documentation for each product and ingredient will facilitate the audit review and may shorten the time necessary to complete the certification.
What information do I have to submit for each product that I want to be certified?
The program Application Packet specifies what company, product and ingredient information must be submitted for natural 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 such as product labels, product processing information and/or manufacturing instruction, and quantitative formulas (raw material breakdown), are needed; additionally, for each ingredient: a complete composition statement, MSDS, tech/spec sheets, current COAs, natural source information, processing information/manufacturing instructions, must be submitted. NPA staff may request additional documentation to confirm natural sourcing of raw materials, processing of ingredients or master batch and manufacturing records.
All my home care products are natural. Can I get my company certified or do I still need to have each product certified?
The NPA Natural 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 Natural.
If I use the same formula for several products, that is, dish soaps that are different colors or scents, do I still have to pay a certification fee for each certified product?
What if I use the same SKU for more than one product? Do I pay the certification fee for each certified product?
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 for the different sizes to ensure that they are indeed the same formulation. Additionally, all product sizes maintain the original certification date and subsequent recertification date.
If I use multiple certified products in a kit or pack, do I still have to pay a certification fee for the kit/pack?
No; however you do need to submit documents for the different products to ensure that they are indeed the same formulation as the certified product. Additionally, the kit/pack would maintain the original certification date of the earliest certified product.
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 NPA Natural Seal Program. The program fees cover both the cost of the audit review and licensing for the use of the logo for each product certified for two years. We understand your concern pertaining to the cost of the program, but keep in mind the value of natural certification to your company, including the opportunity to have the Natural Seal on your certified products as well having your certified products listed on the Natural Seal website. There has been tremendous consumer outreach concerning this program, resulting in a lot of consumer recognition of the program seal and their confidence that a product bearing the NPA Natural Seal is in fact natural.
How do I know what raw materials and processes I can use?
Become familiar with the Natural Standard and Allowed List of Processes and Ingredients to determine what ingredients and processes are allowed or prohibited.
An ingredient in my formulation was considered prohibited even though it is on the Illustrative Positive List of ingredients. Why did this happen?
The NPA Illustrative Positive List of ingredients is a good source of information as to whether or not ingredients are allowed, but there are many ingredients on the Illustrative List that can be found both naturally and synthetically. Additionally, some ingredients have processing steps that can prohibit it from the Natural Standard. This is why all ingredients used in a product formulation require the proper documentation before the application is sent to the auditor for review.
Is NPA going to start a certification program for branded raw ingredients for home care products?
Yes, certification of raw ingredients for home care products is available and the list of certified ingredients can be found on the website.
I am not a U.S.-based business. Can I get my products certified?
Yes, if your company and products meet the criteria for natural certification, we will certify your products through the NPA Natural Certification Program for Home Care Products.