Oleon tackles consumer demand for ethical products via INCITE project’s chemo-enzymatic process
19 Dec 2022 --- Oleon is highlighting that the consumption patterns of beauty and personal care buyers are shifting. They are increasingly searching for environmentally sustainable alternatives. In reflection, the company is frontlining green chemistry solutions, which aims to reduce product life cycles and commit to biotechnology via INCITE, an EU-funded multi-stakeholder project.
“This multi-stakeholder project was running over 52 months with a budget of €13.3 million (US$14.1 million) and was developed as part of the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Payment Programme,” shares the company.
A “significant shift” in consumer desire is taking place, where shoppers are actively pursuing items that offset carbon emissions, feature ethical ingredient sourcing and enforce sustainable manufacturing practices, according to Oleon.
The company also notes that the beauty, hair and personal care sector continues its accelerated expansion, fuelled by population growth and the increasing spending power of an aging population.
“Other contributing factors include lifestyle changes, a stronger focus on health and wellness, the impact of e-commerce, innovations in quality and safety and optimized processing models,” says Oleon.
Delving into upcoming trends in the space, PersonalCareInsights spoke to Oleon, CP Kelco, Lignopure and Innova Market Insights to uncover how consumer demands are shaped, how the beauty industry is reacting and what the sector’s future entails.
Green chemistry solutions
Oleon is harnessing green chemical solutions to target high-value consumers to offer industry-specific product development.
Moreover, green chemistry offers alternative solutions to previous chemical systems that were more harmful to the environment.
“Green chemistry is at the heart of our company ethos and where possible, we aim to use bio-based materials to supply our customers with the most environmentally-friendly and safe products – combining high performance with ready biodegradability,” says Sébastien Busschaert, business manager of life sciences at Oleon health and beauty.
The environment and human health are interconnected; thus, sustainable and ethical business practices “are not just a nice-to-have anymore, but key drivers of customer loyalty.”
Moreover, 73% of consumers, particularly Gen Z, believe that transparency and sustainability are critical, according to a report by the Personal Care Council entitled Creating a More Beautiful World. They are also more likely to pay extra for products that reflect these values.
The report also states that almost 55% of US consumers are concerned about the environment and would be willing to pay for ethical and sustainable products “even in the face of a global recession.”
Are EU goals enough?
Oleon notes that while EUs’ chemical industry ambitions to be climate neutral by 2050 are substantial, these commitments are not ambitious enough to offset carbon emissions.
“On the upside, these industry-driven goals are seeing buy-in from brand owners such as L’Oreal. The French personal care company is committed to achieving carbon neutrality at all its sites by 2025 with 100% of the water used during industrial processes to be recycled and reused,” the company shares.
Additionally, Oleon says that such personal care companies are aiming to ensure that 95% of their ingredients in formulas will be biobased – from minerals or brought back into the loop through circularity by 2030.
Oleon is introducing the lifecycle analysis of its products via the “cradle to gate” principle. The company intends to focus on responsible product design, ethical sourcing of ingredients, investment in R&D and developing new and sustainable manufacturing solutions.
“In conjunction with the ACDV (Association Chimie du Végétal – French Association of Bio-based Chemistry) in France, we are currently cooperating on developing a lifecycle analysis guide for chemicals based on vegetable sources,” says Busschaert.
“We aim to include eco-conception in our innovation strategy: developing new products that have an even lower impact on our environment while adding value to our customer’s applications,” he adds.
A cleaner industrial approach
For a cleaner industrial approach, Oleon is investing in “next-level industrial biotechnology” through its involvement in the INCITE project.
The project aims to bring a new generation of sustainable solutions to the market with an “enzymatic esterification system in conjunction with eight of the most innovative and future-orientated chemical companies with a target of a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050.”
Moreover, Busschaert says that Oleon’s enzyme esterification pilot program with the INCITE project will entail ingredient offerings that are produced via solvent-free synthesis. The process is noted to offer high efficacy and quality with a smaller carbon footprint and increased product safety.
Furthermore, additional benefits will be unveiled once the pilot project has been industrialized and increased process safety. Oleon suggests that a solvent-free process drastically reduces the working temperature and pressure and uses non-hazardous biocatalysts.
The pilot project is expected to result in approximately 60% less waste and a possible energy saving of between 40% and 60% when implementing changes in upstream and downstream processes.
“Lowering operating temperatures from 210°C to 65°C will also result in a 25% reduction in greenhouse process gas emission,” shares Oleon.
Busschaert adds that Oleon’s current R&D strategy focuses on developing customer partnerships. “Rather than just selling standardized products, we use our dedicated sales organization, flexible manufacturing capabilities and extensive R&D resources to offer products and services which are tailor-made to specific customer requirements,”
“This is a competitive and fast-paced market. It is, therefore, vital to partner with ingredient suppliers that understand these dynamic and forceful market pressures,” he concludes.
Edited by Venya Patel
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