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Rise of marine-based ingredients leads to questions over sustainability

By Simon Pitman , 23-Oct-2012

In recent years marine-based cosmetic ingredient have become increasingly popular on the back of huge interest in natural products, but researcher Organic Monitor believes this trend could throw up questions about sustainability.

In parallel with the rising popularity of these marine-based ingredients, we are also seeing a rise in scientific data pointing to the erosion of marine eco-systems such as corals, which the market research says gives way to the question on sustainability.

Cosmetics ingredients based on a wide range of marine materials are being pushed by an increasing number of suppliers to include extracts made from coastal plants, seaweeds, algae and sea minerals.

A wide range of finished products include marine extracts

Ingredients suppliers that have decided to get in on this act have included Norwegian supplier Aqua Bio Technology, which has developed a novel range of ingredient from by-products found in salmon hatcheries, while US-based Heliae is marketing strains of algae.

Such marine ingredients are filtering into a wide range of finished products, including Greek company Apivita, which is using a sea fennel extract in a sun care product, while Italian company Lacote is marketing anti-cellulite products formulated with Guam seaweed.

But the market researcher poses the question as to whether or not the large scale sourcing of marine-derived ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products could further exacerbate already compromised marine eco systems.

Non-sustainable fishing is already a major problem

“Non-sustainable sourcing of seafood has led to an estimated loss of 90 per cent of predatory fish from the world’s oceans. Apart from taking certain species to near extinction, overfishing has disrupted many ecosystems,” an Organic Monitor researcher noted in a recent release.

“Climate change has led to the acidification of oceans, sea levels and temperatures have risen, whilst the number of invasive species is growing because of human activity and environmental pollution.”

On top of this, there is also the added problem of pollution, of which the cosmetics industry is said to directly contribute to through discarded cosmetic and personal care packaging.

All of these issues and ways of overcoming them will be explored in a presentation by Germany-based marine ingredient company Ocean Basis, as well as by Apivita, Helia, and Lipotec, at the forthcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit , to be held in Paris at the end of November.

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