The sweet smell of trash? Perfumers are using waste to concoct new scents


The family group TechnicoFlor presented a collection of fragrances developed from upcycled raw materials, including cacao absolute from cacao pods. Photo: AFP

Previously destined for a life in the trash, strawberry residue, tangerine peels, and carrot seeds are now part of the new olfactory palette of the fragrance world.

After upcycling was embraced by fashion and cosmetics, it's now proving to be a new playground for perfumers who not only aim to do better for the plane but are increasingly using waste to concoct new scents.

Upcycling consists in giving an added value to objects or materials destined to be thrown away, in order to reduce waste.

This process has already attracted the fashion industry, which uses fabric scraps and unsold items to create new collections, as well as the cosmetics industry, which uses seeds, pits and other waste materials from the food industry to develop formulas for new beauty products.

The advantages of upcycling are such that now it's the turn of the fragrance industry to take up this method which looks to further push the limits of the circular economy.

Giving waste value

Why throw away clementine peels or strawberry residue when they can be used to create the fragrance that will enchant your evenings out in the future?

Many perfumers are now turning to waste materials to create new scents. And if upcycling seems remote from the luxury and glamour image of perfumery, it actually embodies the future of a sector that is reinventing itself to become more responsible, and even more virtuous.

Family group TechnicoFlor, specialised in the creation and manufacture of aromatic compositions for the perfume and cosmetics industries, has just unveiled a debut collection of perfumes essentially based around upcycling.

Read more: Vanity Fare: Restore and refresh with the right beauty products

What does that mean in concrete terms?

No less than eight responsible fragrances developed by its perfumers, who have taken up the challenge of integrating an upcycled raw material into each composition.

And among the selected ingredients are some that are unexpected and surprising, to say the least.

Pierre Flores, Marika Symard, Christine Lucas, Bertrand Duchaufour, Jeremy Sabater, Berengere Bourgarel, Irene Farmachidi, and Felix Deschamps have chosen for this collection lees from white wine, recovered from the deposit generated during the aging period in wine and champagne barrels; cypress absolute, which comes from waste from furniture production; tangerine, sourced from peels; and cocoa absolute sourced from cacao pods.

These by-products and wastes, whether of natural or synthetic origin, have allowed all these noses to enhance their palette with new scents, in addition to participating in the development of more responsible fragrances.

"The use of upcycled raw materials is a genuine environmental challenge for the perfume industry. I believe that this responsible approach perfectly defines the perfumery of the future," explains Pierre Flores, one of the perfumers behind this collection.

For his part, Bertrand Duchaufour sees it as a mode of renewal.

"Beyond the eco-responsible dimension, working with raw materials from upcycling is all the more interesting as they challenge us in that we're working with a new type of product, which can be tricky to highlight in a perfume," he says.

The future of fragrance

The fragrance industry is gradually moving towards upcycling, although more slowly than the cosmetics and fashion industries.

With Angel Nova, the candy pink version of its emblematic Angel scent, Mugler has made a name for itself in this niche, proposing a double-extracted Damask rose, the result of a combination of upcycling and biotechnology, in association with notes of raspberry, lychee, and benzoin.

A process developed specifically for the house that allows fans to enjoy a new scent.

Read more: Would you be recognisable in real life based on your glamorous beauty snaps?

Meanwhile, Etat Libre D'Orange went even further, and did so back in 2018, unveiling Les Fleurs Du Dechet - I Am Trash, a scent developed from the waste products of the perfume industry.

From apple essence to strawberry to bitter orange and rose absolute, the main ingredients that make up the fragrance are all from upcycling.

A feat that demonstrates the industry's interest in this process, which tends to put an end to, if not considerably reduce, waste. – AFP Relaxnews

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