From Nordic forest to sustainable beauty: upcycled birch to replace fossil fuels in cosmetics

Published: 10-Mar-2023

Innomost, circular economy pioneer from Finland, is scaling up production of its bioactive compounds from upcycled birch bark, offering a more sustainable alternative to palm, fossil and food origin ingredients for beauty and personal care

Innomost, a Finnish forerunner in the circular economy, is taking the global growth plan to the next level with the start of its first production plant. The production plant is capable of processing up to one million kilograms of birch bark per year into 100% natural, biodegradable high-value ingredients for cosmetics.

Birch has been used for hundreds of years to protect and sooth the skin. Innomost develops and produces high-value bioactive ingredients from forest industry side streams that enable its customers to make ground-breaking innovations in the cosmetic beauty industry. By using birch bark side streams, the company upcycles naturally occurring raw materials that would normally be used for energy production or other lower value purposes into high-quality products.

Innomost collaborates with Metsä Group, a major Finnish forest industry company and one of the largest birch wood processors in Europe. Circular economy forms the base for Metsä Group's operations. The forests are managed sustainably, and every part of the tree is used as efficiently as possible. The origin of wood is known, and the chain of custody certification provides the proof that origin, legality and sustainability are realised throughout the supply chain.

“It’s really a win-win situation. The raw materials for Innomost's products are available in large volumes at a feasible cost. Our raw material originates from certified Nordic forests, not from lands that could be used for food or feed. We are on top of the beauty trend for upcycling, zero waste and full-cycle natural cosmetics,” said Sami Selkälä, CEO and Founder of Innomost.

From Nordic forest to sustainable beauty: upcycled birch to replace fossil fuels in cosmetics

The new production plant is equipped with in-house designed, patent-pending production process technology and meets the high quality and safety standards of the cosmetics industries. The aim is to minimise the carbon footprint at all stages of production by utilising environmentally friendly and innovative solutions. For example, wood raw material left over from production is recycled into bioenergy for the needs of the production plant and the waste heat from production is utilised to increase energy efficiency by heating production buildings.

The production plant is capable of processing up to one million kilograms of birch bark per year, and further processing 100,000 kilograms of birch bark powders and 10,000 kilograms of extracts. "However, our current range of biodegradable and sustainable products from birch is only the beginning of our company's innovation potential and growth opportunities in the global market" says Sami Selkälä, CEO of Innomost. “We do things that have not been done before, at least in this part of the world.” he continues.

Innomost's current product portfolio consists of birch bark powder, betulin, suberin, birch charcoal powder and azelaic acid. These ingredients are perfect for innovation in all cosmetic product categories including skincare, haircare, body care, decorative cosmetics, and oral care. Azelaic acid, for example, is an effective solution for acne, which has exploded as a skin problem with the daily usage of face masks. Birch bark powder provides deep cleansing for skin and hair, replacing extremely problematic microplastics. Betulin and Suberin have shown potent anti-ageing efficacy in in-vitro tests.

“Consumers want to use natural, renewable, and sustainable cosmetics that are good for them for the environment. Our innovation enables us customers to replace fossil fuel-based and other environmentally harmful ingredients with ethically produced, sustainable upcycled option." founder and CEO Sami Selkälä concludes.

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