Biofabricated Cellulose: Transforming the Personal Care Industry with Fermentation

March 23, 2023
Cellugy's Newsletter: Leveraging the power of biocellulose

Cellugy recently moved their offices from Aarhus to Søborg, just outside of Copenhagen, and became part of the Alfa Laval Innovation House. Besides Cellugy, the Alfa Laval Innovation House also houses numerous other start-ups with the mission of making the world a better place. One of them is Kaffe Bueno who Cellugy has been in close contact with as we both are working towards revolutionizing the Personal Care Industry.

Kaffe Bueno’s Marketing Coordinator Noomi Mikkelsen sat down with Cellugy’s Co-Founder and CEO, Isabel Alvarez-Martos, to talk about how Cellugy wants to change the Personal Care Industry and about the upcoming in-cosmetics global event later this month in Barcelona that both start-ups are exhibiting.

NM: What are some of CELLUGY's recent projects and how do they contribute to creating a more sustainable future in the personal care industry?

IAM: Cellugy harnesses biology to develop more sustainable, higher performing ingredients for everyday products by using renewable resources rather than fossil fuels. We have developed a platform technology that mimics the way cellulose is produced and assembled in nature. We do so through energy-efficient and green processes that bridge humanity advancement with sustainability.

The technology that we have developed can deliver the exact same product, as found in nature, but with better quality, competitive economics, and substantial savings in carbon footprint/greenhouse emissions. The power of this technology is its simplicity, in other words there is just one reaction – the conversion of sugar into cellulose - but it happens within a microscopic factory, inside a microorganism. It is basically a fermentation process that uses probiotic wildtype organism, so a similar process and facility requirements to those used to make beer, wine or yogurt.

With EcoFLEXY, our ingredient, we would like to make a change in the personal care industry and eliminate microplastics that might be in cosmetic and personal care. Carbomers and liquid synthetic polymers mostly used for their thickening properties, are still a type of microplastic that harms the environment.

With EcoFLEXY our mission is to exchange all these harmful ingredients, so industrial stakeholders can also meet their sustainable goals. Our platform technology also allows us to create products with other properties based on biofabricated cellulose, so we aim to be a platform for companies and brand owners to reach their sustainability goals while delivering superb performance.


EcoFLEXY being poured into a glass

NM: How does CELLUGY's EcoFLEXY ingredient differ from other sustainable alternatives? What unique properties does it possess and how does it contribute to a healthier planet?

IAM: EcoFLEXY stands out over other sustainable alternatives in two ways – its production and the product itself.

The production process is fermentation versus extraction from natural sources such as plants. There is no need to cut down trees or harvest any other form of cellulose from plants which has a high energy demand and need of using harsh chemical to get extracted. Our production allows for more sustainable production using fermentation, not using chemically and energy intensive processes, allows for ingredient transparency and delocalized/local production.

With EcoFLEXY personal care brands have the ability to differentiate their products with something that performs the same as carbomers, most widely used rheology modifier of synthetic origin, but being biobased and biodegradable. EcoFLEXY perfectly integrates in the most challenging formulations, where many other rheology modifiers fail to perform, for example in the presence of salts or extreme pHs. At the same time provides a smooth and silky feel on the skin, making it superior to other rheology modifiers of natural origin which leave a sticky and unpleasant feel. It fulfils the dermatologists' recommendations for natural ingredients with better compatibility with skin and customer’s expectations on organic, vegan, and biodegradable ingredients. Last but not least it is functional at low dosage levels and for the first time in the market can be provided as a redispersal powder allowing for massive integration.

NM: How does CELLUGY see the future of the personal care industry evolving in Denmark and globally? What role do you see your ingredients playing in this development?

IAM: The future of the personal care industry goes towards biobased, biodegradable and biofabricated ingredients. We believe that Denmark but also the world has a growing demand from society to change more industries and aspects of one’s life to be more environmentally friendly – we can see this trend also growing in the personal care industry.

We are working on a pipeline of ingredients for the personal care industry, with the objective to eliminate those ingredients from fossil-based origin that have hazardous effects for humans and the environment. With EcoFLEXY, our ingredient, we would like to make a change in the personal care industry and eliminate microplastics that might be in cosmetic and personal care. Carbomers are one of the top ingredients found in cosmetics and helps with thickening, gelling and as an emulsifier it prevents an oil and water separation. However, according to ECHE, Carbomers are not only suspected to be irritative to our skin but also harm the environment. At Cellugy we saw the opportunity to provide something better for people, formulators, and the planet.

EcoFLEXY in Emulsion

NM: How does CELLUGY approach co-creation and collaboration with other start-ups and technologies to advance their mission of sustainability?

IAM: Making the world a better place can’t be done alone and it has to be done in partnership. Therefore, we are constantly looking to establish partnerships with different players in the value chain with the capabilities to scale-up and commercialize the technologies that we develop. That includes pilot and manufacturing facilities, startups, ingredient manufacturers, distributors and selected brands.

Working in a space such as Alfa Laval’s Innovation House gives us the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with other startups that have the same mission as us. This not only sparks more motivation to work on our own goal but knowing that others also follow a sustainable mission gives comfort to us that the health and future of our planet is in less danger.

With a clear mission in mind, we are looking forward to present EcoFLEXY at in-cosmetics global in Barcelona. Industry stakeholders can not only discuss co-development opportunities but are also able to listen to a technical presentation every day at 11:00 am, held by our Material Scientist Alixander Perzon, where he will go more in-depth about the production and functions of EcoFLEXY.

Make sure to stop by at Cellugy’s stand AK53, we are looking forward to seeing you there!

If you are interested in reading the interview of Kaffe Bueno’s Co-Founder and CCO, Alejandro Franco held by our Marketing Communication Coordinator Jennifer Kristen visit their website.