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In recent times, Asian Pacific markets have introduced various forms of public and private food upcycling initiatives in a bid to reduce food waste. Some are turning potatoes into plastic alternative products, while others are exploring using anaerobic digesters to generate heat and electricity for local communities.
Upcycling is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, or discarded objects into new materials or products. According to the Upcycled Food Association, upcycled foods use ingredients that would have otherwise not been fit for human consumption. Upcycled foods are procured or produced using verifiable supply chains and have been found to have had a positive impact on the environment.
An astonishing amount of food cultivated each year is wasted. The World Food Program states that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year and is worth approximately USD 1 trillion. The authority further pointed out that all the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people, more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe.
In developing markets, 40 percent of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels. In industrialized markets, more than 40 percent of losses happen at retail and consumer levels. In South East Asia, Future Food Asia revealed that upstream food losses amounted to more than 50 percent of vegetables and fruits produced in the region.
The main causes for retail food waste are limited shelf life and aesthetic standards for food, such as food products that are edible but do not pass “the beauty test”. Meanwhile, consumer food waste is mainly caused by poor meal planning, excess buying, and confusion over “best before” and “use by” claims.
When it comes to the Personal Care industry, upcycled beauty has become a trend of rapidly growing popularity among brands looking to make a meaningful contribution to improving industry sustainability. Food and beverage waste represents the main source of materials that can be upcycled into beauty products, particularly natural and organic cosmetics, since these often contain food-grade ingredients that, in turn, contain a trove of valuable compounds that can offer rich benefits for the skin.
The food and beverage industry contributes fruit pulp, seeds, and cores remaining from juice extraction to add several benefits to cosmetic products, including improving the skin’s texture. Similarly, agricultural waste from fruit harvesting, oil mill waste from the processing of seeds to extract oil, and vegetal components left over from grain and fruit processing also contribute to the upcycled ingredients used in cosmetics.
Today, upcycled ingredients find their way into a huge array of finished cosmetics – from face and body creams and gels, to cleansers, scrubs, peel, oils, soaps, and more. Some companies are presently researching how to develop upcycled perfumes and other materials for Home Care and Institutional Cleaning to replace traditional non-sustainable feedstocks.
As the use of materials derived from food waste in cosmetics grows, so too will the sustainable profile of the personal care industry at large. For example, the discarded core and seeds from fruits such as apples are recovered to form active components in anti-aging skin care products. These extracts are clinically proven to reduce wrinkles and rejuvenate aging skin. Olive Squalane is derived from the waste obtained from the processing of Olives for oil. The ingredient is used in cosmetic products to protect the skin and hair from dehydration. Along with these, when pink pepper berries are harvested from trees, the extract from the discarded leaves is used in lotions, creams, gels, and masks as an active ingredient for healthier skin.
The opportunities for using upcycled ingredients in cosmetics continue to grow as technical innovation develops, facilitating the reinsertion of both discarded and wasted food materials into the production of natural and organic cosmetics.
Upcycling reduces the pressure on manufacturers to make more products that would only be discarded and result in unnecessary waste. Upcycling provides a second life for what would have otherwise been discarded. Learn more from our experts at DKSH on how your business can benefit from the upcycling efforts taking shape across Asia Pacific today.
Chris Ridgewell is General Manager, Personal Care Industry at DKSH Australia. With more than 25 years-experience in the FMCG and Specialty Chemicals industries, Chris connects global manufacturers with leading Australian companies in the Personal Care and Home Care & Institutional sectors to support product innovation and operational excellence.