EcoCert is a third party inspection and certification firm based in France. It was started in 1991 by agronomists interested in promoting organic and sustainable agricultural practices. Though it started in France, EcoCert is now active in most countries with several national subsidiaries, including in Canada (2000) and the United States (2008).
EcoCert’s emphasis is “sustainable development.” This also includes environmentally responsible methods. EcoCert set the example for this in 1997 when they moved into a building with bioclimatic architecture (designed and built to adapt to the local climate) to reduce energy use and waste. Their example also includes use of recycled paper.
The center of EcoCert’s field is agricultural products, but the range of standards covered by their inspections covers (by their listing):
– Natural and organic cosmetics
– Natural cleaning products
– Natural and organic home perfumes
– Being − Organic & ecological Spa
– EFT (Ecocert Fair Trade) – Organic and fair trade products
– Eve® (Ecological green spaces)
– Inputs eligible for use in organic farming (fertilisers, phytosanitary products, etc)
– Environmentally friendly production of aquatic plants and their processing (Spirulina, food supplements)
Since many products are subject to several sets of standards and kinds of testing and are dealt with in global markets, inspection and certification agencies cooperate and collaborate, sharing expertise and effectively reaching across national and geographic boundaries. In 2013, collaboration between EcoCert of France and IMO of Switzerland and Germany resulted in merging the two organizations. However, they still operate under their own names.
These two bodies are under one umbrella because they share the emphasis on organic production, but IMO focuses on natural fibers. Though EcoCert has been centered on food production, they have broadened out, as seen in the list above.
The certification process is initiated by the producers or other companies wanting their products to be certified as organic. For instance, a cooperative of wool ranchers may apply to EcoCert to certify that their wool meets the necessary criteria to be certified as organic by GOTS.
EcoCert also executes Private Certification. A company or group of companies contracts EcoCert to test their products for meeting their own standards. Since the products have been tested by a third party, the producers can verify that they meet the stated standard.
In North America, there are EcoCert subsidiaries in Canada, the United States and Mexico. In the U.S. ECOCERT Inc. is accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect farm products for the National Organic Program (NOP).
The primary impact of organic agriculture for mattresses, including memory foam mattresses, is in the use of natural fibers for covers, battings, insulators, and natural fire barriers. The most common of these fibers are cotton, linen, wool and silk. EcoCert certifies organic cotton, wool and linen grown in the U.S. for the USDA and GOTS seals.
There are more agricultural products than natural fibers and latex used in making mattresses. A short list includes foam additives and cover treatments, such as green tea extract, aloe extract, and soy oil. Some of these may be tested and certified by EcoCert in their countries of origin.