As the world pulls together to rise above our many obstacles, hundreds of industry professionals made time to explore the upcycled movement during a joint webinar hosted by Renmatix, Upcycled Food Association, Dandi Day, and Full Circle. This curated blog post reflects the fundamentals of the upcycled movement, the collaborative work with academia for a legal definition of 'upcycled' as a precursor to a certification, ingredients, and innovations, trends, and a formulation showcase for product creators. 

This article was created by Hayley Hoffman CEO and Founder of Dandi Day, located in Los Angeles, CA. Dandi Day is a conscious beauty firm that curates beauty industry insight for product creators.

What is the Upcycled Movement?

The Upcycled movement, a segment born from the bioeconomy and sometimes called the bio-based economy, presents economic growth and environmentally responsible action. Turner Wyatt, the CEO of Upcycled Food Association located in Denver, Colorado, gave the global opportunity and some stunning data:

  • 40% of food goes to waste
  • 28% of agriculture land used to produce food waste
  • 21% of the freshwater used to produce food waste
  • Contributes 8% of greenhouse gas emissions
  • The collective value of waste is $940 billion per year

The upcycled movement to reduce food waste is the #1 most effective solution to climate change, according to Project Drawdown, the world's leading resource for climate solutions.

What is the legal definition and certification?

Upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment. The definition seemingly only applicable to food pertains to all ingredients. Think of upcycled like the organic movement, where the meaning was applied to food and resulted in organic products of all kinds, not just food, i.e., cosmetics, clothing, furniture. The definition leads to a certification program that will launch in October 2020. The Upcycled Food Association, comprised of 75 companies across 13 countries. One of the companies includes Renmatix, the manufacturer of an active emulsifier, upcycled from maple wood chips. The certification will increase access to and demand for upcycled products, allowing consumers to make informed decisions to reduce waste.

Upcycled ingredients and innovation

Full Circle Ingredients shared their vision and portfolio made entirely from upcycled materials of the food and lumber industries. Their Blueberry NECTA ®, rich in antioxidants effectively shielding the skin from blue light exposure, contains the oil from 800,000 berry seeds to product 1KG diverted from food waste. Although this story exists in the current supply chain, the company has taken internal protocols to actualize a zero-waste philosophy.

Renmatix, a US biotech company, shared its upcycled ingredient Celltice ®. This ingredient, powered by their patented Plantrose ® process, harnesses supercritical water and heat to gently pull unmodified cellulose and lignin away from upcycled wood chips, sourced from FSC certified maple tree leftovers of the lumber industry. Their innovation has received recognition from the US EPA, winning a Green Chemistry Award in 2015 and recently in March 2020 with the Edison Award in the Energy and Sustainability.

Celltice, Mother Nature's gift of Red Maple extract, provides three primary benefits in personal care products:

1. Gently Fosters Skin Health

  • Reduces sebum by 45%.
  • Reduces the appearance of dry, flaky skin by 66% after 30 minutes

2. Protects Against Environmental Stress

  • A high content of lignin is a powerful polyphenol to reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by blue light.

3. Enables Indulgent Textures

  • Functions as a skin-friendly emulsifier to create soft textures that can replace chemical ingredients.

It is truly an innovation that is simple, natural, and clean.

Upcycling in Product Creation

Since upcycling is a newer concept, Dandi Day partnered with Tribe Dynamics to look at some popular hashtags among the top 50 brands driving social media engagement and their YoY change from 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, which measures the frequency of use and virality potential.

  • #vegan 17% decrease
  • #veganbeauty 6% decrease
  • #veganmakeup 15% increase
  • #crueltyfree 19% decrease
  • #crueltyfreebeaty 5% increase
  • #cleanbeauty 29% increase
  • #cleanmakeup 1007% increase

Based on this data, what role does upcycled beauty play in product creation and marketing? At first, it seems irrelevant, but when we dive into the history of clean beauty, the numbers make sense and set the stage for a new trend. A question that popped up during this discussion:

Q: How are clean label advancing in the USA for cosmetics ingredients? Have you the news about an official label?

Hayley Hoffman: “As an industry veteran residing in Los Angeles, California, I have seen the US industry divided by varying regulations between states such as California's Proposition 65, and then compounded by varying global regulations. From my perspective and experience, the clean beauty movement materialized as collective efforts by NGO's, research organizations, retailers, and consumers, to fill in the global regulatory gap. Brands and retailers focused on natural, organic, vegan, cruelty-free, and many other free-from claims for years, but in 2017 Sephora launched their Clean Beauty standards, and this changed the development and marketing of finished products for the future. Product development typically takes 12-24 months, so the data tracks as expected due to vegan and cruelty-free claims consolidating their identities under clean beauty. Surprisingly, #cleanmakeup had an astronomical increase from 2018 to 2020; however, color cosmetics has seen a steady decline since COVID. Picking apart the data and drivers provides food for thought, but still, how does this transition to upcycled beauty?

Upcycled has a clear and legal definition providing a framework for stakeholders and shareholders that set the agenda to have a positive impact on the environment and accounts for global scales of economy, whereas 'clean' fills a cultural and governmental gap in regulatory differences. For this reason, I predict upcycled beauty will appear in future headlines and focus on new development."

Upcycled formulation concepts

As a showcase of the Full Circle and Celltice ingredients, Dandi Day helped design two formulations packed with benefits.

1. Exfoliating Earth Mask

A natural and indulgent gel-cream clay mask that purifies and exfoliates, leaving the skin feeling balanced, nourished, and not over-stripped. Suitable for all skin types.

Key ingredients:

  • Celltice NM
  • Blueberry CRUSH small
  • Raspberry CRUSH small

Features and benefits:

  • Reduces skin dryness
  • Counteracts drying nature of clay
  • Rejuvenated skin-feel
  • Exfoliation on multiple levels

2. Blue Light Defense Cream

A soft and comforting cream to use day or night for a natural defense against environmental aggressors such as blue light and reactive oxygen species (ROS), while hydrating and nourishing skin.

Key ingredients:

Features and benefits

  • Natural shield against blue light
  • A natural source of pro-retinol (vitamin A)
  • Contains a standardized level of carotenoids
  • Natural defense against free radical damage caused by ROS
  • Gentle on skin

We reviewed how these products performed over eight days, as well as provided the formulations. If your are interested in more details about the formulation, please get directly in touch with Dandi Day.

Industry professionals from all around the world have talents and desires to make a difference in the world. Upcycling enables a more sustainable future by reducing waste and taking advantage of the bio-economy and making the most of current innovations. If you missed the live webinar and would like to learn more, watch the recording at this link.