The Middle East, often synonymous with the oil and gas industry, stands at a pivotal moment in history. As the world grapples with the urgent need for decarbonization, the region has a unique opportunity to lead the way in transforming not only its energy sector but also other industries. Even in the recent COP28, the President, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, launched the landmark Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC) dedicated to speeding up climate action and achieving a high-scale impact across the oil and gas industry. Within this industry, the petrochemical industry affects beauty and personal care the most.

The beauty & personal care industry truly presents a significant challenge along with a major opportunity. This industry has been trying to develop new, eco-sustainable products to respond to the demands of consumers and international regulations. With a market projected to reach $646.20 billion in 2024, the industry faces mounting pressure to eliminate the use of microplastics and petrochemical-derived ingredients. This has led to extensive research on finding suitable ingredients for substituting traditional ones derived from petrochemical sources, particularly polymers.

Currently, the industry uses four different families of polymers: synthetic polymers, polysaccharide-based polymers, proteins, and silicones. However, replacing synthetic polymers and silicones with new ‘green ingredients’ is a significant challenge for the modern beauty & personal industry. Furthermore, there are about 16,000 ingredients in the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) list, with China’s Inventory of Existing Cosmetic Ingredients in China (IECIC) list controlling the game with 8,783 approved ingredients. The solution lies in an elegant and globally approved technology: Natural Biopolymers.

In the nineteenth century, consumer appetite for nitrates and ammonia for use as fertilizers and industrial feedstocks increased dramatically. The primary source was mining winter deposits and guano from tropical islands. Fast forward to the twentieth century, when the Haber-Bosch Process was introduced, producing 453 billion kilograms of fertilizer from the air annually, enough to feed roughly 40% of the world’s population. So, what does this have to do with biopolymers? During this period, abundant and inexpensive Natural Biopolymers were identified as the key to replacing petrochemicals in beauty & personal care and agriculture. As regulatory and public pressure to decarbonize grew, this elegant solution remained trapped due to non-solubility.

Biopolymers such as chitin and its derivative chitosan have received attention due to their abundance, low costs, and enhanced safety character. They offer unique physicochemical and biological properties for the production of beauty & personal care products, ensuring the effectiveness of the products produced. They are truly versatile polymers with various functional properties including anti-wrinkle and anti-aging, antibacterial, film-forming, wound-healing, fungistatic, hemostatic, and analgesic. Biopolymers have been widely tried in the beauty & personal care industry with the hopes of benefiting from their limited toxicity, biocompatibility, and biodegradability, but rarely used due to their non-solubility. These ingredients bind water, hydrate the skin, and can be used as a thickener, rheology modifier, and emulsion stabilizer. They create a hydrophilic film on the skin, preventing water loss, something we all look for in cosmetic and skin care products.

CXC-SKIN, a part of the Montréal-based company CXC™, revolutionizes the use of biopolymers in skincare & personal care products by overcoming the non-solubility issue. This 21st-century development by the company with its globally patented process displaces petrochemicals to decarbonize the planet. The company was co-founded by François Lamoureux, who with the help of various recognized formulators, including a global leader in custom formulation and manufacturing, validated the technology and proved its efficacy. By unlocking the power of non-soluble and Vegan Biopolymers such as Chitin, Chitosan, and Alpha-Cellulose, the company has eliminated the need for microplastics and petrochemical-derived ingredients in beauty, personal, and skin care. CXC’s revolutionary technology addresses environmental concerns and enhances the product’s performance, offering the aforementioned biopolymer usage.

CEO François foresees, “With the Middle East’s expertise in managing global feedstocks, the region can spearhead the global adoption of biopolymer technology. Oil and gas companies can diversify their portfolios and shape a more sustainable future by adopting our innovation.” Even investors, policymakers, and industry leaders are urged to seize this opportunity. By investing in and adopting natural biopolymer technology, we can revolutionize the beauty & personal care industry while advancing sustainability goals.

By embracing biopolymers, the Middle East can not only reduce its carbon footprint but also position itself as a leader backed by innovation. Beyond the personal care industry, biopolymers offer vast potential in agriculture, where they can replace microplastics and enhance soil health. The entity that acquires CXC-SKIN’s technology will wield the power to transform abundant and renewable biopolymer resources into viable alternatives for multiple industries, paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future.
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