Writer: Upcycled Beauty Company
Raising awareness and encouraging understanding are key drivers of the Upcycling Campaign and the circular beauty movement. We want to dispel misinformation and inaccuracies often associated with upcycled materials; So let’s start by debunking some common upcycling myths:
Myth #1: Upcycled materials are dirty and contaminated
When we talk about waste, we do not mean garbage but a byproduct or by-product from another process or industry, such as forestry, food and beverage. It is important to understand that waste does not mean something unusable. Let’s take the food industry as an example; Perfectly good products often go to waste due to their ‘ugly’ appearance or loss of demand. Incredibly, 1/3 of all food produced is lost globally, causing a staggering 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This waste includes a significant portion of discarded resources that can and should be reused. Upcycling allows us to create higher value materials from by-products that are rich in nutrients and provide a multitude of interesting plant compounds for personal care.
Myth #2: Upcycled materials should be cheaper
This is a common misconception we often hear because upcycled content is derived from waste. But this oversimplification ignores the journey these materials undergo. Upcycled ingredients are obtained from by-products, i.e. secondary and even tertiary raw materials. However, upcycled raw material still needs to be sourced, packaged, transported and converted into final cosmetic raw material. It is as if it were derived from a primary source. So, upcycled materials are not cheaper because they still need to be processed and processed. The problem here is that people think this so-called waste has no value, but we don’t go through the bins; upcycled content raw materials still have real value. These are plant-based resources that are often too good to waste.
It is also important to consider that various cosmetic ingredients may come from upcycled sources, although this fact is not always prominently advertised. There are several potential reasons for this:
- The manufacturer has limited visibility across the entire supply chain;
- For legacy components, the origin of the product is not openly shared, as origin and sourcing have only become important points of interest in recent years.
The difference with upcycled materials is that the supply chain can be made more transparent. Raw material producers and brands now want to shout out their sustainability values.
Myth #3: Quality and effectiveness are compromised
A frequently voiced concern is that upcycled ingredients compromise the quality and effectiveness we demand from beauty products. However, such claims are far from true. Upcycled ingredients undergo stringent testing and quality control measures to ensure they meet the same high standards for safety and effectiveness as other cosmetic raw materials. In fact, sustainable practices associated with upcycling often result in ingredients of comparable, if not better, quality and effectiveness compared to their conventional counterparts.
Myth #4: Upcycling is limited to extracts and active ingredients
While extracts and active ingredients certainly contribute to upcycled beauty, the scope of the technology goes far beyond that. Functional and auxiliary substances also emerge as part of this movement. The Covalo platform and the Upcycled Content Directory provide evidence of this diversity by displaying a wide range of upcycled content with a variety of applications.
- Sea Balance 2000 from carbon wave Sargassum is an all-natural, upcycled emulsifier made from seaweed. SeaBalance 2000, which is stated to be quite versatile and works in cold processes, has a pH range of 3.5-9.0 and can work with oil concentration between 10-25%. Sargassum is a floating seaweed that is becoming more widespread due to nutrient runoff and warming oceans. Carbonwave can avoid 850kg of CO2e emissions using just one tonne of Sargassum.2
- Tea CosmeGreen line from surfactgreen Provides bio-derived cationic surfactants upcycled from sugar beet and rapeseed. These functional hair care ingredients also offer different benefits to hair, such as softening, detangling, strengthening and color protection. They can be used as an alternative to silicones, petroleum-derived quats and other traditional ingredients to increase the sustainability of a personal care formula without compromising performance.3
- mango supplement from Biolie It is an upcycled natural protection enhancer derived from mango seeds, a by-product of the food industry. Produced with Biolie’s zero-waste patented enzymatic extraction technology, testing has shown that this ingredient has antimicrobial power and can therefore be used to supplement traditional or alternative conservative systems.4
However, it is true that upcycled functional and excipient offerings do not yet have the same level of sophistication as actives. To help close the circulation gap, we need to create 100% zero-waste beauty by focusing on the large-scale deployment of sustainable production, investing in cleaner, low-carbon and material-efficient technologies, curbing demands for virgin materials and drastically reducing materials. consumption. We have a call to action for the industry: We need more of these upcycled technologies.
Myth #5: Unreliable supply chain
Giorgio Dell’Acqua, president of the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists, reportedly said that while ingredients derived from upcycled food production waste appear promising, the logistics of securing ingredients in a usable state are a barrier to scalability.5
However, when we look at the history of personal care, upcycling is by definition not a new concept. Raw materials such as lanolin, glycerin, and many seed oils are byproducts of other industries. We do not see logistics as an insurmountable obstacle, but personal care product manufacturers need to establish good partnerships with local waste producers.
As we move towards more cyclical processes, there may be drawbacks and developers may encounter problems. Finnish brand Lumene, a pioneer in ‘Sustainable Scandinavian Beauty’, has developed an illuminating cloud berry seed oil using Scandinavian cloud berry, but found working with such a rare fruit challenging as yields are low and harvest occurs within a small time frame of four to six weeks. in summer.6
But we know that working with upcycled supply chains isn’t hard, it’s just different. Instead of the traditional linear economy and take-make-dispose process, content creators can turn this around: investigate what is being destroyed in their communities and determine what can be created. This leads to fascinating innovations without using virgin resources.
In another example, producing the natural hair conditioning active Faba TONIQ®, The Upcycled Beauty Company takes the waste left over from hummus production. 1 kg of this upcycled ingredient contains the water needed to process approximately 4167 chickpeas, removing it from waste. No new ingredients are produced, no existing resources are wasted.7 In this case, the supply chain is very simple: all that is needed is a good partnership with local Mediterranean food producers. And if they are nearby; Even better (50 miles from their own manufacturing facility). Producers make a point of regularly supplying all the chickpeas needed to make hummus throughout the year, and ingredients producers can source from such a constant stream of waste from only a few local suppliers. The volume of food or beverage produced daily is enormous compared to the resources required to make personal care raw materials. There is a level of safety built into upcycled supply chains as the amount of certain waste streams exceeds the demand to produce cosmetic active or functional ingredients.
The circular economy is also a restorative and regenerative system by design, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible. This emphasis on responsible sourcing helps support a safe and reliable supply chain, contributing to a more resilient industry for the future.
Myth #6: Upcycling is a deceptive trend and greenwashing
It is true that upcycling has become increasingly popular in recent years; This is evident from the introduction of an increasing number of new materials that proudly promote their upcycled origin. But with climate challenges now being felt in real time, we know that sustainability is no longer a temporary trend but an imperative. Upcycling is part of Circular Beauty, a green business model that focuses on repairing, reusing and extending a product’s lifecycle by minimizing waste at all stages of the supply chain. To achieve Circular Beauty, businesses need to look at every step in a product’s creation and lifecycle, from the materials used to how the packaging is disposed of. As upcycling increases supply chain transparency, it is becoming more difficult to hide behind claims of greenwashing and we are working with key stakeholders to ensure credibility. We fully believe that circularity will become a normal part of daily operations across the industry and that upcycled ingredients are just the first step towards beauty and personal care.
Upcycled ingredients are derived from valuable by-products, and their prices reflect the efforts put into sourcing, development and processing. They also offer quality and effectiveness that rival traditional cosmetic ingredients. Upcycling encompasses more than extracts and active ingredients, with a variety of functional material technologies now available. Upcycled supply chain concerns are also addressed through community building, transparency and responsible practices. After all, upcycling is not a gimmick, it is an integral part of the Circular Beauty movement and allows companies to focus on responsible consumption and production practices.
one. Blueberry Necta® from The Upcycled Beauty Company
2. Sea Balance 2000
4. mango supplement
5. Thoughts on Upcycled Materials, cosmetictasarım.com
6. Upcycled Cosmetics: Scandinavian Cloudberry Case Study, cosmeticsandtoiletries.com
7. Faba Toniq® from The Upcycled Beauty Company