The role of sustainable sugarcane in the beauty sector

13th September 2022

As beauty brands increasingly seek sustainable and alternative ingredients, and as consumers demand more environmentally friendly, ethical cosmetic products, sugarcane has emerged as a promising solution.

Many beauty brands actually use sugarcane-derived ingredients such as ethanol, butylene glycol, and glycolic acid in a range of their products.

sugarcane beauty product

At Bonsucro, we’re seeing growing interest from the beauty sector in sourcing certified sustainable sugarcane materials for these ingredients.

Guaranteeing sustainability

Bonsucro is supporting manufacturers of beauty products by helping them to guarantee sustainability in their supply chains.

Natura & Co – a company at the forefront of sustainable sourcing – is one of the most recent additions to our membership. The company is leading the way in the industry for both environmentally and socially sustainable beauty brands. It’s the world’s largest B-Corp; home to ‘purpose-driven’ and ‘socially conscious’ brands – Aesop, Avon, Natura, and the Body Shop.

Its sustainability plan, ‘commitment to life’, sets its goal to use 95% of its ingredients from renewable or natural sources. As part of the plan, Natura & Co has committed to full traceability or certification of its critical material supply chains by 2025, which includes ethanol.

Natura & Co has joined Bonsucro to source certified sustainable ethanol for its brands’ product lines. Rafael Milantonio, Sustainable Materials Procurement Manager, told us how the procurement of ethanol is one of the company’s main concerns due to the large volumes that its brands use for products like fragrances. Sourcing Bonsucro-certified ethanol will help the organisation to meet its sustainability commitments. “Bonsucro has a huge role to play to change the supply chain,” Rafael concluded.

Bonsucro can help companies like Natura & Co. meet sustainable sourcing targets. For example, our impact data shows that Bonsucro-certified mills have already reduced their CO2 emissions by 5.5% after just one year – resulting in overall smaller carbon footprints for businesses further along the supply chain. After five years, certified mills reduce water use by 50%.

Innovation in the sector

Beyond sustainable sourcing, we are also seeing exciting innovations in the beauty sector that offer alternatives to previously harmful or exploitative ingredients, using sustainably sourced sugarcane.

This is the case for our member Amyris, a synthetic biotechnology and renewable chemical company that owns a range of ethical beauty brands, including Biossance, Costa Brazil, and Terasana. Amyris has been using sustainable Bonsucro-certified sugarcane to make a chemical called Neossance™ Squalane – a more stable, hydrogenated version of squalene and an emollient ingredient with moisturising, hydrating and anti-ageing properties. This is used in its beauty products to replace squalene, which is often extracted from shark livers. By using sugarcane-derived squalane, Amyris helps to save over 2 million sharks per year.

Considering packaging

Like many sectors, organisations in the beauty and cosmetics space are turning their attention to packaging and aiming to minimise plastic.

For example, Natura & Co wants to go beyond a circular economic model and ensure packaging circularity by 2030. This will be done by making 100% of its packaging materials reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Sugarcane can play a supporting role for the beauty sector here as well. For some brands, sugarcane-derived packaging is already being used. Biossance uses sugarcane-derived bioplastic for its products which are housed in cardboard boxes made from sugarcane bagasse.

Bonsucro has been working with bioplastics and packaging producers for years. Our members include Eco-Products which offers customers like McDonald’s packaging made from bagasse and Tetra Pak, which produces cartons with sugarcane-derived bioplastic lids worldwide. We will use our convening role to connect our members from different sectors to support them on their sustainability journey.

The beauty sector shows exciting developments in new uses of sustainable sugarcane. From cosmetics, biomaterials, rum, and more, demand is growing across a diverse range of emerging, innovative industries.

Does your company use sugarcane derivatives in its products? We can help you meet your responsible sourcing targets. Contact our Membership Manager Rafael Seixas at to get started.