Have you ever heard of the cosmetic upcycling ? The definition of upcycling can be also known as “surcyclage” which is the literal translation or by this expression, more evocative and more respectful of the French language: “recyclage par le haut”. Upcycling differs from recycling (recycling of materials to create similar new ones) and downcycling (recycling into a product of lesser value).
It consists of recovering materials or products that are no longer needed in order to transform them into superior quality products.
We have all made them, at some point: for example, mustard jars transformed into glass.
“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”
This concept applies in many fields, such as decoration (upgrading wooden pallets into nice furniture), fashion (transforming old jeans into handbags), and also in cosmetics fields with packaging.
In this article, we will see how it applies to cosmetics.
Cosmetics, a sector par excellence not very inclined to favor recycling and the virtuous economy, with its innumerable packaging and over-packaging, its materials from petrochemicals…
But 2022 could initiate a new trend with actors like Sophim.com, a french cosmetic ingredients supplier, who boost the industry of the cosmetics upcycling. In doing so, they hope will become a ground swell, capable of inspiring and allowing the whole planet to benefit from its virtues.
In cosmetics area, there are 3 types of ingredients:
- petrochemical-based materials (from the transformation of fossil resources)
- materials of mineral origin (from the subsoil and the ground)
- materials of natural origin (from the plant world)
The objective of upcycling cosmetic is to minimize the impact of this economy on the environment by reducing the production of waste. Knowing that our resources are not unlimited and that this also saves money. For example, this cosmetic industry can produce its creams or shampoos based on apricot kernels or grape seeds or even recycle its waste (cardboard, plastic, containers) by transforming them into useful objects. Upcycling can be generated at all stages of the production process. Some brands have integrated this concept by recycling, for example, lipstick tubes into lip sticks, thus avoiding their unnecessary and polluting destruction. Olive squalane is the typical example of waste from the olive, which if it is not upcycled (valued as a cosmetic active ingredient), is thrown away. This process can be applied indefinitely and makes it possible to recycle waste, which is polluting by nature.
This is part of a circular economy process, the opposite of the traditional linear economy. Indeed, it breaks down as follows: extraction of raw materials, transformation into finished products with production of waste, consumption and therefore new waste, destruction, or low recovery of waste. This economy is destructive of the environment and does not value raw materials. It causes a depletion of resources and creates greenhouse gases while contaminating its environment. The circular economy, on the other hand, will favor efficiency at each stage of production and transformation, while preserving the environment by limiting the production of waste as much as possible and by recycling it. The cosmetics industry could thus become an eco-responsible industry.