Sustainable Innovation starts with Smart Sourcing

  • January 8, 2021
  • 6 minutes of read time

Sustainable Innovation starts with Smart Sourcing

Eco-design is a practice that has become unavoidable in all industrial fields: automotive, packaging, textile ... examples of new eco-designed products are not lacking. Eco-design consists of integrating the preservation of the environment at all stages of a product's life cycle, from the sourcing of raw materials to the end of life, through the manufacturing and distribution processes.

The cosmetic industry is no exception and innovates in this field. The sourcing of ingredients occupies a central place in the eco-design approach and the use of natural and renewable ingredients has become essential. It is also a key argument in brand communication as consumers often associate naturality with safety. This craze for plant-based raw materials nevertheless has its limits since it increases the pressure on natural resources: the preservation of biodiversity has thus become a major concern for ingredient manufacturers.

Eco-design in cosmetics also involves saving drinking water. According to a recent report by the World Resources Institute, 33 cities worldwide, with a total population of over 250 million, are currently experiencing severe water stress. By 2030, this population is expected to exceed 470 million1. Overconsumption of drinking water for industrial purposes is no longer acceptable.

Seppic has taken the measure of these stakes and has worked on different axes as socially and environmentally respectful plant sourcing, "upcycling" and biotechnologies during its latest product developments to offer new ingredients sourced sustainably, responding to current environmental issues, and answering cosmetic market expectations.

A commitment to sustainable wild botanicals collection

Serdex, a subsidiary of Seppic, manufactures highly purified active ingredients extracted from Centella Asiatica and other Malagasy plants. Being respectful to traditional know-how and developing local suppliers in areas from where the plants originate, is at the heart of sustainable development of Serdex.

Centella Asiaticca Wild Centella Asiatica

For the sustainable sourcing of wild Centella Asiatica plants, 3 key pillars are considered: First, to ensure traceability and quality. Through an unique sourcing organization in cooperation with two local suppliers based on a long-term relationship, the traceability is guaranteed. The plant quality is specified by technical parameters and is determined by defined operating procedures.

The creation of a local quality control lab supports the know-how transfer to implement quality assurance measurements. The number of local employees is increasing and helps to develop the local economic situation. The second pillar is the protection of local resources: The exact volume of plants is ordered annually prior to the collection season. This ensures that only the right quantities are collected. All harvesters have training programs to follow good collecting practices, which are permanently adapted to the context. Around 3000 harvesters and their families benefit from the supply chain. The third and last pillar is the commitment to sustainable development like projects for education and the improvement of standard of living. The schooling rate in these areas has increased significantly thanks to the building of 100 classrooms since 2003.

As a member of Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), Serdex is committed in the continuous improvement of its organization and management of botanicals supply in order to respect the biodiversity, sociological and ecological issues in connection with wild botanicals collection. During the last membership audit in 2017, 95% of UEBT membership obligations were met, reflecting one of Centella asiatica's most complete and developed supply chains in Madagascar.

You want to learn more about our Centella Asiatica (CICA) actives? Then read our blog article about “CICA” skin care.

"Upcycling", or how to valorize waste from other industries

Another part of the solution may lie in a better use of resources already exploited by other industries and the recycling of their manufacturing waste.

Babassu is a Brazilian nut whose oil is used locally in the food industry and in fuels. Seppic uses part of its shell (the mesocarp), usually considered as waste, to create a natural texturizing powder SEPIFINE™ BB (INCI: Amylopectin). Designed for skincare and make-up applications, this powder leaves a soft finish on the skin and absorbs oil excess. The babassu hull supply chain is validated by Origens Brasil, an organization that ensures equitable sharing of economic resources among local communities in the supply chain.

Seaweed cell waters help to limit the impact of freshwater use Seaweed cell waters help to limit the impact of freshwater use

Seaweed cell waters help to limit the impact of freshwater use in cosmetic formulations. They are collected during the drying process of algae, which are mainly exploited for their dry extract by the agro-food industry in Brittany. These cellular waters can be used in cosmetic formulas: the production of 1 liter of cellular water involves 26 times less drinking water than the production of 1 liter of osmosis water generally used.

HYDRALIXIR™ range, a collection of eco-designed fresh waters, sourced from the marine world, combines sustainable sourcing, eco-conception & naturality. Both available types are algae cellular water sourced in Brittany, France.

HYDRALIXIR™ LD is collected in the heart of Laminaria digitata (organic brown seaweeds) and HYDRALIXIR™ CC is sourced in the heart of Chondrus crispus & Gigartina stellata; a couple of red seaweeds that live together along the wild French coasts.

Biotechnology to reveal rare natural resources without exploitation

Our patented plant cell culture biotechnology named Celtosome™ avoids plant harvest since it relies on a laboratory cell culture from seeds. Especially, it allows the production of plant cells of protected species on the coast. Thus, Eryngium maritimum, a protected species in several regions including Brittany, can be valued in a laboratory process. Plant cell culture technology makes this sourcing available on the cosmetic market. Thanks to biotechnology, we can provide Celtosome™ Eryngium Maritimum an anti-aging that helps improving the firmness of the skin and a full skin renewal.

Another biotechnology is the first world wide technology to cultivate macroalgae cells in the laboratory to offer cosmetic active ingredients. It enables the valuation of rare microscopic species that are barely available in the ocean, such as Acrochaetium Moniliforme, an epiphytic macroalgae, whose species was identified by the National Museum of Natural History before being cultivated by Seppic and its in actives specialized teams. These epiphytic macroalgae secret cells named CONTACTICEL™ helps the regulation of oily skin exposed to pollution.

Epiphytic macroalgae in laboratory Epiphytic macroalgae in laboratory

This biotechnology also allows the promotion of ephemeral and unstable life forms: Sporophyte is the common macroalgae form. Gametophytes are cells liberated by the sporophytes in the reproduction life cycle, as an ephemeral stage. Gametophytes are the Source of Life for the survival of the species. In the ocean, gametophytes are unstable and not available in large quantities. In photobioreactors, gametophytes are stable thanks to specific conditions.

One example is the gametophyte extract from the Undaria Pinnatifida seaweed named EPHEMER™ taken from macroalgae cells grown in a laboratory and harvested at an ephemeral stage in the life cycle of Undaria Pinnatifida seaweed. The smart sourcing due to sustainable biotechnology is not the only advantage, but it also shows a positive effect on the efficacy. In different tests the gametophyte extract had better results than a common sporophyte seaweed extract of Undaria Pinnatifida.

Seppic is committed to sustainable cosmetics by placing human health and environment preservation at the heart of its innovation. The search for original sourcings, limiting planetary resources exploitation, is part of the eco-design approach undertaken by the group.