Trash to treasure: UK skincare start-up brings a fresh-faced approach to repurposing ingredients from the coffeehouse
10 Sep 2018 --- Food waste is the single largest component going into municipal landfills in the US, as well as many other countries across the globe. As a result, reducing or repurposing food waste will be one of the key industry concerns when it comes to truly performing in terms of a circular economy. So far, the notion of a circular economy is being dominated at a B2B level, but with growing consumer calls for full transparency across the supply chain, you can expect this to move up the B2C agenda too.
To face this challenge, a growing number of suppliers in the FMCG space are experimenting with novel ways to repurpose food ingredients and by-products, thereby mitigating waste and capturing value.
In this space, coffee grounds hold strong innovation potential. UK start-up Optiat – short for “One Person's Trash Is Another's Treasure” – is seeing growing success with its line of skincare products made from organic and natural ingredients, including coffee grounds and other recyclable products.
Launched in 2016, Optiat sources spent coffee grounds from UK coffeehouses to create a line of all-natural scrubs and other skincare products.
Major selling points for consumers are the line’s natural and sustainability credentials. Innova Market Insights has this year identified personal care products positioned on an ethical* platform as a key industry theme. Recent health and environmental scares surrounding plastic microbeads further exemplify this point.
“The global skincare products market is projected to reach US$177.15 billion by 2024 and the large majority of that growth is considered to come through the use of organic materials. Not only is the overall market for skincare growing, but within that the demand for natural and sustainable products is growing. We are seeing a shift in consumer demand and awareness,” Optiat co-founder William Brightman tells NutritionInsight.
The company’s second line – a range of soaps is made using pre-brewed chai spices – fits in nicely with the previous brewed beverage theme.
However, the company is continually eyeing other ingredients and options to further expand its offerings.
“The biggest challenge is trying to combine genuine sustainability with effective solutions for the customer. Some ingredients can be challenging to work with but that is par for the course when you are working with elements that come from the earth. The development stage can be longer as you try to meet a stricter sustainability and zero toxicity criteria,” Brightman notes.
Optiat is trying to embody its key features of sustainability and recycling throughout the brand, including its packaging.
“We are currently undergoing a brand and packaging revamp in which we aim to become further aligned with this ethos. We will be moving to aluminum and glass packaging. While currently all our packaging is fully recyclable we are trying to move the business away from single-use plastic, even if it is the fully recyclable kind. Feedback from customers has highlighted how important this is,” he notes.
Click to EnlargeOptiat was recently featured on Dragon’s Den, a UK television program in which entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to venture capitalists in a bid to secure investment. Brightman and fellow Optiat co-founder Anna Brightman, who is also William’s sister, left with a £50,000 (US$65,000) cash investment, which will help the start-up expand significantly.
“Running a start-up always comes with challenges, however there are even more when you are operating in such a highly competitive space,” says Brightman.
“The key for us has been authenticity. Staying authentic to the brand and our ethos. Transparency and honesty with the customer is also vital. Customers are struggling with the lack of transparency in the market, particularly from big brands, so having honest and reliable information and strong brand ethics is important,” he concludes.
Growing interest in repurposing
Innovation in the repurposing of food waste is ongoing. NutritionInsight recently reported that food scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a refreshing drink that contains live probiotics, dietary fiber, free isoflavones and amino acids from okara – the residue from the production of soy milk and tofu, which is usually discarded. The researchers say that by encapsulating these nutrients in a beverage, they can be easily absorbed into the body and promote gut health. The researchers have filed a patent for their novel technique and are also looking to collaborate with industry partners to introduce the drink to consumers.
*ethical= ethical environment, ethical human, ethical animal/fish/bird
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