The circular economy is a hot topic in sustainability right now, where consumers and companies alike are looking to waste as little as possible. Simply defined, a circular economy is a system aimed at eliminating waste entirely through the continual, cyclical use of resources. Naturally, for an environmentally-oriented company, this is an exciting and urgent prospect.
Provital is inspired by the concept of the circular economy. We have taken these principles to design a proposal for ‘circular beauty’. By transforming by-products, waste, and useless or unwanted materials into new ingredients or formulas of better quality and environmental value, we can make the beauty industry cleaner and greener. Here, we look closer.
Why the beauty industry should fight against ‘overconsumption’
Throw-away or single-use products are a serious problem for all industries, beauty included. Reducing, or indeed eliminating, the use of single-use or non-recyclable products is essential to combatting climate change. Moreover, there are important economic arguments for more sustainable manufacturing processes; they can create employment opportunities and cut costs.
Equally, these initiatives are increasingly supported, or in some cases compelled, by transnational bodies. Organizations like the European Union are introducing more legislation against environmentally harmful ingredients like plastic microbeads and encouraging sustainable practices. For example, the EU has committed 1 billion euros up until 2025 to nurture a post-pandemic circular economy.
Consumers are buying into sustainable beauty
However, these pressures aren’t only coming from the top; consumers want circular beauty too. According to Mintel’s February 2020 UK Green BPC consumer report, zero waste beauty is a key interest for this group, with 41% of British adults agreeing that an ethical beauty brand is worth paying more for. Meanwhile, 54% of consumers have bought eco-friendly BPC products that go ‘beyond sustainability’ – that is, taking innovative measures to go the extra mile for our planet.
One such example is upcycled beauty. Taking the circular economy as its starting point, these products use waste or byproducts to create new, value-added formulas. Often, these will be food byproducts, simultaneously tapping into the demand for recognizable ‘foodie’ clean beauty and sustainable trends. Equally, ‘upcycling’ positions products above recycled alternatives, creating a premium sheen. The wider industry is taking notice of these trends and strategies, with ethical/recycling claims tripling in just a year (Mintel, 2020).
How beauty brands can engage with the circular economy
To really embark on a circular beauty project, brands need to push new naturals for skin care and raise their ecological credentials. Here, collaboration is key; by working with suppliers and partners to implement sustainable initiatives, beauty brands can gain value. When relaying this back to the consumer, transparency is essential. Be wholly honest about ingredient sourcing with traceability initiatives, proving the authenticity of suppliers and raw materials.
Provital is dedicated to supporting the beauty industry in this initiative by taking the circular economy as a foundation for our product development. One such example is HydrafenceTM, a deep-moisturizing active that uses a new hydrocolloid matrix of rice amylopectin, upcycled from the byproducts of rice grain refining. With actives like this, brands can provide full sustainable supply chain transparency – and be a part of the circular beauty movement.