Food waste is a real platform and with this blog post we're focusing on two suppliers who combine product innovation and upcycled ingredients into new products for the beauty market:

  • Full Circle is a small UK-based supplier, which develops upcycled, zero-waste ingredients for beauty & personal care formulators. What we specifically liked is that Full Circle does not have MOQs and there also makes its products available for small and Indie brands.
  • Renmatix is a US-based biotech company and manufacturer of Celltice™,  an upcycled ingredient from red maple trees that gently foster skin health, protects against environmental stress, and enables indulgent textures. Further Renmatix published a great white paper about "Upcycled Ingredients. The Next Frontier in developing Sustainable Personal Care Products"

Q1: Upcycled ingredients are called the next big beauty trend: Why do you think this is? 

Full Circle: It's no secret that the overconsumption of the earth’s resources (along with the amount of waste produced) is having a harmful impact on our planet. Thankfully, the ZERO WASTE BEAUTY® movement - which seeks to redesign resource lifecycles - is gaining momentum. We’re seeing consumer brands (of all shapes and sizes) looking for ways to eliminate waste across all aspects of their supply chain and product development processes in order to reduce environmental impact.

Upcycled ingredients form a key part of this vital movement; not just within beauty and personal care, but within the food industry too.

So, although upcycled ingredients might be touted the ‘next big beauty trend,’ it’s something we expect will be commonplace in the future. Our vision is that one day, every beauty and personal care product will be made from upcycled materials - from ingredients to packaging!

Renmatix: The beauty industry is always in search of innovation. If innovation comes from sustainable and responsible practices, even better. No one wants to be left out of what, simply put, makes sense. As trends such as clean beauty, wellbeing, naturalness, and higher transparency push for better and newer materials, there was no better timing to uncover and discover upcycled ingredients.

Upcycled ingredients are unquestionably more than a trend, and they have opened a new door to our industry. It is not news that the beauty industry is gearing towards more sustainable environmental, animal, and people-friendly practices, motivated by consumer demand. There are still many supply
chains yet to be explored in the design of upcycled ingredients. And I think it is fair to say we all prefer to use high performing, renewable, environmentally responsible alternatives.

Q2: How did you get started with upcycling ingredients?

Full Circle: It just makes sense doesn’t it?

When you think about it, the origins of the cosmetics industry began with making use of animal derived by-products such as lanolin, squalene or tallow. Although we have sensibly moved away from the animal origin, there is no reason why we cannot use other forms of ‘waste,’ such as plant-based by-products and leftovers. We’re empowering and inspiring beauty and personal care brands to transition towards a circular economy to show that together, we can go ‘Full Circle’ and thrive solely on upcycling existing resources.

The key is to ensure there is no compromise on cost, performance or provenance; we want to help the industry reach the point where there is no reason not to use upcycled ingredients.

Renmatix: Caring for Mother Nature’s bounty is in the DNA of our technology and our company culture. From the design of our Plantrose® process to the realization of our finished goods, Renmatix strives to be people, animal, and environmentally friendly. Right from the start, our technology was developed to
transform residual plant matter from other industries into foundational ingredients that can be used in diverse applications. We have strategically delved into biomasses that are sustainably grown and harvested, such as hardwood birch, corn stover, sugar cane bagasse, and even cardboard. Recently, we have focused on upcycling red maple wood leftover by the lumber industry.

Q3: What is your process when it comes to manufacturing upcycled ingredients?

Full Circle: The most important thing for any raw material manufacturer is the quality of their product. This is especially important for us, since our starting material is something that others consider to be waste. By focusing on this, we can produce a product with better quality and higher efficacy.

Ensuring full visibility and transparency of the material’s lifecycle is of course key too. We can even calculate how much waste you’re diverting from landfill when you use our upcycled ingredients.

Renmatix: The Plantrose® process is a breakthrough platform technology that uses the power of water to break down diverse plant materials labelled as waste by other industries. Water in its normal state (ice, liquid, or steam) does not deconstruct plant structures to their most basic building blocks. Our scientists have given water “superpowers” to do just that by applying a distinct combination of heat and pressure to achieve the unique state of Supercritical Water. In our process, supercritical water acts as both a solvent and a catalyst; decrystallizing, dissolving, and hydrolyzing the biomass’s naturally occurring polymers. Rejected feedstocks are transformed into high performing functional ingredients. No harsh solvents or additives are needed, making the Plantrose process a cleaner and greener award-winning alternative.

For the cosmetic and personal care industry, Renmatix offers Celltice™. Celltice is a unique Pickering emulsifier upcycled from FSC-certified American red maple wood. To the best of our knowledge, Celltice is the first and only upcycled emulsifier available in the market. It also relies on the distinctive Pickering mechanism, that is, particle-stabilized emulsions that result in longer shelf-life and better skin compatibility when formulated appropriately. Because Pickering emulsions do not contain surfactant-type emulsifiers, they are also gentle to the skin barrier, microbiome, and sensitive skin. Particularly, Celltice is made of cellulose and lignin particles, which enable indulgent textures, foster skin health, and protect against environmental stress (blue light). Celltice particles can absorb excess oil and retain water on the skin while also delivering antioxidant protection and moderate light reflection.

Q4: Are there differences between “normal” and upcycled ingredients?

Full Circle: Aside from being truly sustainable, our upcycled ingredients are proven to outperform conventional ingredients too! Take Hemp NECTA® for example - our active oil made from leftover hemp seeds. It has 52% higher antioxidant capacity than standard hemp seed oil. Raspberry NECTA® also has 20% more natural vitamin E than its “standard” counterpart.

Renmatix: The most distinctive difference relies on the supply chain. Upcycled ingredients are made from byproducts from existing supply chains. Therefore, there is no need to create a whole new supply chain dedicated to meeting the beauty industry’s needs exclusively; or repurpose feedstock that could be used
for feeding or housing. Upcycled ingredients take the next step by supporting the ideals of sustainable and responsible use of natural resources. And it means more than recycling, as we are adding value and performance to low value byproducts. Some of the upcycled ingredients available in the market derive from leftover red maple wood, sugarcane bagasse, banana blossoms and leaves, imperfect fruit and vegetables, and residual seeds or oil cake.

Q5: What do formulators need to consider when creating products with upcycled ingredients?

Full Circle: The beauty of working with upcycled ingredients is that you don’t need to alter your approach to formulation in any way. You can treat our NECTA® active oils in the same way as you would an oil soluble active. All of our ingredients are extremely easy to work with.

Renmatix: Formulators may want to make sure their suppliers can support upcycling claims; therefore, a transparent and documented sourcing network is important. Ultimately, the performance of upcycled ingredients will depend on the type of ingredient in use, but the market has already introduced upcycled ingredients that perform equally or better than their conventional counterparts. Otherwise, the formulation technology around upcycled ingredients is quite standard.

Q6: What should brands look for when working with a supplier who offers upcycled ingredients?

Full Circle: The good news is that many ingredients in the industry are already upcycled, but it’s not always possible or easy to verify this and for most suppliers it is not a focus. Because of this, quality can be lost in the process and supply chains can become unnecessarily complex, which can lead to reduced provenance and increased carbon emissions.

Renmatix: Unlike certified-organic ingredients, there is not yet a certification for upcycled beauty ingredients (Note: The Upcycled Food Association is currently in process of creating a certification body). Though we may speculate a certifying body might be in the works, brands and formulators should look for partners that can provide transparent information and traceable records regarding their supply chain and upcycled materials. One certainly wants to make sure they are exploring an abundant and sustainable source of agricultural byproducts. Plus, an upcycled supply chain is also an attractive promotional storyline

Q7: In light of increasing demands, how can suppliers ensure it's sourced sustainably and from food waste?

Full Circle: It’s important to work with suppliers who have upcycling as a core focus, but let’s not limit ourselves to food waste! For example, our Charcoal CRUSH™ range is a by-product of a by-product; offcuts from sustainable oak fencing are used to provide restaurant quality charcoal and we upcycle the smaller pieces that they cannot use.

Renmatix: This is a great deal of the trailblazing we ought to do. Suppliers of upcycled ingredients must keep close relationships with the base of the supply chain. It is important to know where the raw materials come from, whether they are sustainable, how they are grown and harvested, as well as understand at what stage is the raw material rejected by the existing supply chain, whether it comes from the food, lumber, or another industry. For example, our leading supplier of FSC-certified red maple wood produces hundreds of millions of kilograms of this biomass every year. A considerable amount of this wood is used by the lumber industry for housing, furniture, etc. Bits and trims that cannot be used by the existing supply chain are leftover and acquired by us to produce Celltice. The colossal volumes required by the lumber industry ensure a consistent and sustainable supply of rejected red maple wood.
The responsible forest management practices adopted by our suppliers to harvest red maple trees from healthy forests whose tree populations are increasing year over year (despite pests, disease and logging) guarantee a renewable and environmentally friendly use of natural resources.

Q8: How do we find out more?

Full Circle: Come and join our Instagram community! The content isn’t just ingredient-focused - we highlight all manner of upcycling including key brands who are helping to grow the ZERO WASTE BEAUTY® movement!  You can also find out more on our website. 

Renmatix: You can learn more about Renmatix, our technology, and our brands, on our website and social media (renmatixinc, allwell_allover, celltice, nrtrdcare).