WATERLESS - WATER WISE - WATER CLEVER: the Age of Water-Conscious Products

The boom for ‘waterless’ products is here to stay (Yay!), but the reality is - not every product can be waterless. However, delivering liquid products with ‘water-wise’ ingredients and production processes is not only a possibility but an achievable reality. This is an exciting space and we anticipate new aqueous solutions to follow the “dry” direction, but using more conscious sources of water….like our hydrophilic Cellular Extracts, created using rain-harvested water (treated by reverse osmosis, deionized and purified).

While many brands in the beauty, personal and home care industries move toward waterless innovation, not all products have the capability of being produced sans H20. In those cases, there are other options to reduce water straight from the tap.

Water-Clever Cellular Extracts for Water-Wise Brands

Our brands choose their ingredients on more than the plant profile and quality, they also consider the impact of their manufacturing processes, which is increasingly important as brands apply for eco-certifications like B-Corp and more!

At NATIVE EXTRACTS we are dedicated to delivering water-wise ingredients and practising eco-conscious manufacturing methods. NATIVE has been manufacturing all our Hydrophilic Cellular Extracts from 100% Rain-harvested water since 2018 - rain-harvested water is cost-effective and efficient! 

Every Drop Counts – Considering the Entire Footprint

Being water-wise is about questioning products’ entire water footprint – an inventory of the total amount of water that goes into it from irrigating crops, to cooling machinery, to transport and beyond. It’s not only about how much water we use, or where we source it from but what quality we return the water back in too! Although it’s important to be conscious of input, the output is just as significant. So many manufacturers dump by-products, natural or synthetic, both of which can disrupt the nutrient balance, affecting ecosystems and biodiversity.

So, here’s what we consider across our production process and beyond….

1. Sourcing

We are encouraged by growers who are looking at ways to reduce their water usage from the start of the supply chain. By nature, growing native species can be more water-wise since many of these plants are adapted to the climate and natural rainfall, not requiring as much input as other non-native crops. Sourcing un-irrigated produce and other botanicals are grown with water-wise methods like aquaponics are also part of NATIVE’s water-wise strategy to lower our impact on the planet. We are encouraged by growers that are exploring:

a. Drip irrigation – lower evaporation than other methods.
b. Aquaponics – Studies have shown that aquaponics uses 90% less water than traditional farming. Some of our growers implement growing techniques that significantly use less water, such as our River Mint Grower, Dominic Smith, who uses aquaponics over conventional growing of his Native River Mint. Aquaponics also can increase production within a smaller area. It uses 200 litres to grow a lettuce, whereas growing in the ground would use 36,000 litres. Dominic shares that his process is so efficient, “I have used the same water for 8 years in a recirculating system.”
c. None to minimal synthetic fertilizers or pesticides to reduce water pollution.
d. Large scale hydroponics.

2. Ingredient Manufacturing

We start with Rain-harvested water, thereby reducing our impact on the public supply, saving approximately 1,000 L/day from the public supply (Imagine the cost-savings)! We are also able to recycle and repurpose water in some of our new extraction processes too! We halved the load on our RO purification system because the purity of our rainwater requires less filtration.

Pollution is one of the main threats to water scarcity. NATIVE’s water output is regularly tested and audited by local council. We use solvents that are not dangerous to the aquatic environment, and the only waste product of our extraction process is exhausted biomass that is composted or repurposed. 

3. Brand Product Development

We work with conscious contract manufacturers who also leverage their rain-harvested resources to reduce their reliance on the public supply. We even have brands requesting if we can supply our Rain-harvested water for formulations! We offer…

a. Water substitutes – hydrosols (the by-product of essential oil distillation), rain-harvested extracts (water only or glycerine/water), and fruit waters.
b. Concentrated ingredients – our concentrated solutions can serve as boosters to add to other products, and are gaining more attention with the rise of concentrated multi-purpose products (i.e. concentrated skin drops). We’ve even seen shampoo sprays and sheets that are designed to be used on the go and without water. This is an exciting space we anticipate new water-wise liquid applications in.
c. Water-Free Products – We are inspired by companies like Lush that are trailblazing self-preserved products, where synthetic preservatives aren’t required, proving it’s possible to go 100% waterless.

4. Transport

Our concentrated format of Cellular Extracts lowers overall water-usage in the manufacturing of them and reduces freight costs (smaller + lighter packaging) and associated greenhouse gas emissions that result from heavier loads

5. End-Products

a. Water-Free Formulations – typically require less packaging and is lighter for transport, which is crucial in reducing carbon impact.
c. Water-Wise Formulations
d. Water-Clever ingredient manufacturing

Not Taking Sides – Just Staying ‘Wise’

Lisa Carroll, NATIVE’s Director, sums up our stance on the topic, “Ultimately, I don’t think the industry needs to polarise the water discussion to water-less vs water-based, and go down the green/clean vs chemicals trajectory – we saw where that landed – but rather, consider how much and where we source water for products, and shift to proactive approaches to preserving our planet’s water supply …. Both up and down stream, as we also need to consider how the product impacts our waterways throughout production and after use. The global water shortage is a complex problem but we can all work towards improving our own water use practices.”

It is important to avoid a waterless vs water-based ingredient war and focus more on the solutions at hand. It comes down to having a commercial mindset that cares about the planet and the ability to not accept the status quo, to question your processes and always push for improvement. 

This is an important conversation we need to have and we'd love to hear your thoughts! 

We continue to improve our solutions and would love to hear from you on what you are doing - contract manufacturers and brands who have taken steps to be water-wise in their daily practices or ingredient selection.

Learn more about this and other trends in “Forging the New Experience” Projections + Trends Report 


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