What does Soil Association certification involve?

To mark this year’s Organic September we want to explain how much hard work is involved in achieving Soil Association certification. So we talk to Clare McDermott, who works with brands across all sectors to help them achieve this stringent certification.

Soil Assocation Certification by Clare McDermott

Can we start by asking you about your career with The Soil Association and why you wanted to work with them?

I have been with Soil Association Certification for 6 years and I’m the Business Development Director. That means I work with all our clients across food, beauty and fashion to support them with their certification and also to help make sure that there is a strong market for their products. Getting the organic message across is a key part of that and in a way, that’s why I came here. I’m passionate about playing my part to make the world we live in a better place for all and businesses are key to doing that as more companies making organic and sourcing organic means more nature friendly farming and production. But citizens need to also play their part and making sure citizens and businesses know what organic is and how it supports our environment and how it is a change they can make, is really my driving force.

It’s Organic September, so could you tell us why it is important that people choose organic?

In a nutshell organic can help restore our world.  It supports increased biodiversity across wildlife and plants, enables healthier soils and can have a direct impact on climate change.  And that’s alongside some of the more obvious benefits of no artificial additives, no controversial chemicals and the fact that it has fully transparent and independently inspected manufacturing processes.  If you want to make a small change that can help support our planet, look for a certified organic logo.

certifed organic better for wildlife

We are very happy that the 2020 campaign is focused on all aspects of organic living. Can you tell us why you decided to broaden from mainly food and drink?

With more and more citizens looking at how they can make changes and be aware of their environment and the impact they have, it made sense to make sure everything about Organic September joined up. We wanted to have one really clear message about organic and ‘nature has the answer’ really does that. People don’t shop in isolation and one thing that can stop people buying organic is that they just don’t know why it’s better!

Here at Greenscents, we know how much hard work it takes to achieve Soil Association certification! Please could you tell our readers why it is so important and what a company needs to achieve in order to be certified?

Organic certification is the only fully independent and traceable certification process for food, beauty, household products and textiles. Every stage of the process is independently audited by an inspector. This is normally in person on a yearly basis but with the COVID-19 restrictions has been done remotely using all sorts of tech to film and capture the product ingredients and manufacturing process.

Everything is determined against a set of clear independently set and monitored standards. Here at Soil Association Certification we certify to the Soil Association standards and also to COSMOS for beauty and cosmetics and to GOTS and OCS for organic textiles. These standards cover everything from the farm to the end product and state what can and cannot be allowed.

So it’s really thorough and there is a lot of hard work that goes into being able to use the Soil Association Organic logo on pack!

swap to certified organic

The organic market has actually performed well during the coronavirus pandemic. Why do you think this is and do you see any trends for the sector going forward?

It has and we think (and a lot of the surveys back this up) the pandemic has made people much more aware of their impact on the environment.  People have started thinking about where the things they buy and consume come from and also everyone has been in nature a lot more.  People don’t want to return to how things were and it’s been a positive time in terms of re-evaluating.  This is across all sectors but especially on home cleaning and beauty, we all want to make sure that in trying to protect our families and our homes, we are also protecting the environment and not doing more damage.

soil association certification for pollinator protection

A recent report from the US showed the high level of glyphosate in a small sample of people’s bodies. As the UK leaves the European Union at the end of the year, do you have any concerns about the organic message consumers will receive in the future?

I think the organic message is even more important as we leave the EU and people are rightly concerned about what’s in their food in particular. This is why the campaign for Organic September is so important this year and the fact that the campaign is joined up across sectors will help make sure there is one clear message – that nature has the answer. Alongside that people will be looking for more facts and it’s really important that we all, as members of the organic community, help provide that clear and transparent insight.

To find out more about Soil Association certification and the charitable work it does go to soilassociation.org.

To read more about Greenscents’ certified organic ingredients, go to our website.