Beauty’s Newest Way to Sustainability is Upcycled Fragrance

Beauty’s Newest Way to Sustainability is Upcycled Fragrance

12.11.2021 Off By manager_1

macro shot of yellow flowers

Many fragrances, whether they are luxury or drugstore, contain high levels of synthetics in order to create a particular scent. While synthetics can be harmful or not, there are some volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are not good for the environment. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that perfumes emit just as much pollution as cars’ petroleum emissions. The high levels of pollution are alarming, as well as the fact that fragrances made with flowers, spices and sandalwood are being harvested to excess and in danger of disappearing.

St. Rose is one of the fragrance companies that are trying to offset this increase and reuse their resources by upcycling its fragrances.

We spoke with Belinda Smith, the founder and creative director at St. Rose Fragrances, Aba Gyepi Garbrah is the founder of Aba Love Apothecary and Jules Miller, founder & CEO of The Nue Co., to learn all about upcycled fragrances, and how each brand is working to reduce their carbon footprints and reduce the amount of pollution and waste they create.

What are Upcycled Fragrances?

Gyepi Garbrah explains that upcycling refers to the process of incorporating leftover materials from manufacturing (distillation or extraction, infusions etc.) into a new product. This is done to maximize materials use, reuse materials, and reduce waste. This type of fragrance is great because it has a closed loop system and leaves no waste in its supply chain. It can also reduce the need to source new materials.

What materials can be upcycled?

Smith states that as long as the material is safe to extract or distill, most of the natural materials used in perfume can be recycled. Many perfumers love rose petals made from fertilizer, citrus extracts (specifically orange and lemon peels), wood dust from furniture industries to make cedarwood, as well as coffee and cacao bean waste. You can even add color to your fragrance with grape wastes from wine production.

What is the Process?

A fragrance can be recycled in many ways, including the individual components or the whole fragrance. Upcycling can be a great way of reducing waste. However, some fear that it will become too popular and cause strain on resources, which would be counterintuitive for the entire fragrance.

Are Upcycled Fragrances Good for Your Health?

Do “trashed” twice-distilled ingredients smell any good?

The short answer is yes! They can sometimes smell more appealing than their original forms. Miller says that there has been a stigma attached to natural ingredients or those with low environmental impacts. They are thought to be inferior products. But, Miller explained, “But you can achieve a desired scent with careful curation.”

Smith was also concerned about the scent when she worked with Givaudan fragrance house. Smith was concerned that these materials were made from previously distilled materials. However, she claims, “Instead the olfactory qualities are unique and make certain facets more intense which makes it an amazing way to deliberately influence a composition in a certain direction.

What are the benefits?

Smith states that it takes nearly one thousand pounds to distill a single pound rose oil. Smith believes that upcycling and distilling rose petals twice can create an amazing and unique rose essence. This ensures that the petals are not discarded.

Upcycling reduces waste and energy by reusing materials. New resources are also saved, which leads to greater availability of natural resources, both for farming and harvesting. The most obvious benefit is that perfumers have the chance to reduce waste and to be more creative with how they repurpose materials to create new fragrances. Gyepi Garbrah says that it could reduce the demand for essential ingredients in the fragrance industry.

How do upcycled fragrances impact sustainability?

The Nue Co’s core business is social and sourcing sustainability. Miller says, “Ultimately, our health is an ecosystem that’s dependent on the health of environmental ecosystem around us.”

Because innovation comes with its challenges, the biggest problem in the upcycled perfume industry is the limited availability of upcycled ingredients. Miller says that smaller brands may not be able to access this technology if they are creating their own formulas. Brands can achieve their sustainability goals by partnering with Givaudan who has a vast library of upcycled materials.

This is a great example: Upcycling fragrances can be a small step towards a cleaner planet. Miller reminds brands and consumers to keep this in mind: “Upcycling doesn’t represent a single sustainable solution. It’s part and parcel of a larger narrative and interrogation about sourcing, extraction, and manufacturing.” Every step is a step towards conscious and sustainable practices toward raw materials (to reduce the overall impact).