Naturals and Sustainability Special Newsletter

By-products and re-used materials raise bar on formulation sustainability

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

By-products and re-used materials raise bar on formulation sustainability

Related tags Cosmetics design Environmental impact Recycling

Ethical and sustainability claims are proving among the hottest trends right now, and a new way for formulators to tap into this heightened state of consumer consciousness is to reuse otherwise discarded materials.

The mention of reusing materials within the context of the beauty supply chain invariably prompts most minds to jump to packaging, but increasingly this concept is being extended to formulation.

Indeed, as sustainability is one of the best ways of appeasing consumer’s ethical concerns over the type of beauty products they buy, more suppliers are incorporating by-products and waste materials into formulations in an effort to stretch the sustainability of finished products to new heights.

Formulators get resourceful

Formulators have proved to be resourceful in their quest to find such materials, with most any type of food by-product and agricultural proving being applied to a wide array of applications.

‘Recycling’ these materials fits in well with the consumer belief that the product they are buying is more ethical, giving the additional benefit of creating a positive story behind a brand’s aim to be responsible and eco-friendly.

Drawing attention to this trend, Cosmetics Design recently held its inaugural Best Ingredient Made From Recycled Ingredients Award.

The Cosmetics Design Award

The submissions attracted a significant number of ingredient developers and manufacturers who had all applied highly innovative and thoughtful ways of incorporating re-used or by-product materials into ingredients.

We announced the five finalists and the winner of the competition​ at the recent in-cosmetics North America event. The judging panel was impressed by both the range of materials that had been incorporated into the ingredients, as well as their scope and efficacy.

Amongst the five finalists there was the anti-aging ingredient Borealine Experts from Alban Muller, which is derived from the commonly discarded bark of red maple trees, and Lipotec’s Actiguard, a skin smoothing ingredient made from an extract found in the bran of sorghum.

The story behind the winner

But the winner was the emollient Neossance Hemisqualane from Amyris, marketed as a  sustainable alternative to Isohexadecane, cyclomethicone, and low molecular weight dimethicones.

It caught the judges eye not only because of its powerful range of applications, but also the fact that it is partly derived from re-used materials.

Following the win, Cosmetics Design caught up with Caroline Hadfield, senior vice president at Amyris Personal Care to find out more about the company’s philosophy concerning the use of these materials and the driving forces behind the development of the ingredient.

Caroline Hadfield

Positive environmental impact

“One of the most compelling benefits of making ingredients from recycled materials, by-products, or re-purposed materials is the positive environmental impact,”​ said Hadfield.

“These ingredients reduce waste, consume less energy and have the potential to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Amyris synthetic biology platform leverages all of these advantages. In addition, re-cycling or re-purposing can lead to cost advantages enabling sustainability without a cost premium.”

But developing ingredients using these types of materials is not necessarily the most cost efficient route, despite the fact that the materials being used would otherwise be discarded.

Indeed, the use of such materials can throw up very specific challenges that need to navigated if the product claims are going to hold up to the inevitable scrutiny, as Hadfield explains:

But always be weary of costs!

As in all chemical processes, reliable and robust process and quality controls are necessary. A special challenge for these materials is having a reliable and flexible supply chain.  Manufacturers also need to be mindful to insure both the cost and environmental impact of transporting these materials do not offset any gained benefits.”

Ultimately, moving into this area means that all claims concerning the sustainability of the ingredient have to hold up at every point in the supply chain, while also incorporating the eternal elements of efficacy and the all-important matter of price.

“Ingredient manufacturers have to ensure they produce their ingredients in a sustainable way from sustainable raw materials while offering equal or better performance at an equivalent or lower price to the industry and to consumers,”​ said Hadfield.

“Research has shown that the consumer wants ‘green’ products but does not want to pay a premium for them.”

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