Seeds of success: Students use mango seed waste to create skin care products

22 OCTOBER 2020

Seeds of success: Students use mango seed waste to create skin care products

Four final-year pharmacy students from Charles Sturt University in Orange have been investigating how they can use discarded mango seeds to create skin care products.

  • Final-year Charles Sturt University pharmacy students used mango seed waste donated by Orange community members to formulate high quality moisturisers
  • Student project provides possible solution to repurpose mango seeds, usually considered waste, from Australia’s 60,000 tonne-a-year mango industry
  • Project saw students determine how to extract oil from mangos seeds to then use as skin care ingredient and was made possible thanks to CSU Green sustainability grant

Pharmacy students Miss Lucy Hawkins and Mrs Emily GuoOver the past few months four final-year pharmacy students from Charles Sturt University in Orange have been investigating how they can use discarded mango seeds to create skin care products.

The research project saw students Mrs Emily Guo, Miss Lucy Hawkins, Miss Haidy Ibrahim and Miss Mollie Gersbach create a series of tests and formulations to determine how they could repurpose Australian mango seed waste by extracting oil from the seed and using it to formulate a high quality moisturisers.

Three pharmacy academics in the Charles Sturt School of Biomedical Sciences offered the project to the students as part of their final-year coursework.

The academics hoped the students would formulate a creative and sustainable solution to repurpose mango seeds – a very resourceful part of the mango, but something Australia’s 60,000 tonne-a-year mango producers and consumers often discard.

The Charles Sturt students used mango seeds donated by members of the local Orange community to figure out how they could make the moisturiser.

“There were two arms of the project; two of us worked on the production of the oil – which is extracting the oil out of the seed – and two of us worked on the formulation for the moisturiser using the oil,” Ms Guo said.

“We’d never done anything like this before – testing and creating our own formulas – but the study drew from other subjects.

“Having the opportunity to complete this project while studying the course really helped bring everything together.”

Dr Heather Robinson with pharmacy students Miss Mollie Gersbach and Miss Haidy IbrahimMiss Gersbach said the research project was a unique experience and was exciting because they saw how the extraction process and the formulation worked.

“We spent about four weeks all up in the lab, but there was also a lot of work outside of the labs too,” she said.

“We had to do literature reviews, and come up with our own processes.

“Overall, it was great to see how as pharmacists we can contribute to the broader community, and that there are a lot of opportunities out there for us beyond being a community pharmacist.

“You don’t realise the impact your normal daily moisturiser has on the environment, but now we understand that there are other more sustainable options”.

The project’s supervisors, Senior Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry Dr Christopher Parkinson and Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Science Dr Heather Robinson in the Charles Sturt School of Biomedical Sciences, said it was a valuable learning experience for the students.

“The project was a big eye opener for students, particularly in terms of quality control and validating suppliers,” Dr Christopher Parkinson said.

“But we hope this project goes beyond just the student study. We are looking at these types of processes and products going into pharmaceutical and healthcare industries because we would like more products in these industries not to use petroleum-based excipients.

“We would rather they use something that is produced in Australia, that is renewable and, in this case, that re-purposes something – such as mango seeds – that are otherwise waste.

“There are many environmental benefits to using a pure oil – such as mango oil – compared to many commercial oils that are supplemented with palm oil, which is not sustainable or environmentally sound.”

Pharmacy academics Dr Christopher Parkinson and Associate Professor Maree Donna SimpsonAssociate Professor Maree Donna Simpson, the Discipline Leader in pharmacy and health studies at Charles Sturt, was instrumental in getting the student project off the ground and said it was a CSU Green sustainability research grant she was awarded that initially inspired her and her colleagues to create the study.

“We knew mango oil had a similar spectrum of activity to cocoa butter and shea butter – both already well-known as nice moisturising agents,” Professor Simpson said.

“We wanted to see if our students could use what is typically treated as a waste product – a mango seed – into something more resourceful, for instance a moisturiser.

“After being awarded the CSU Green grant, we called on Orange residents to donate their unwanted mango seeds and peels.

“Thanks to the generous support of CSU Green, and the individuals and businesses in Orange who donated their mango seeds, our students were able to work on this innovative and unique project.”

Media Note:

To arrange interviews, contact Rebecca Akers at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0456 377 434 or news@csu.edu.au

Image note: First image (left to right): Miss Mollie Gersbach and Miss Haidy Ibrahim

Second image (left to right): Miss Lucy Hawkins and Mrs Emily Guo

Third image (left to right): Dr Heather Robinson, Miss Mollie Gersbach and Miss Haidy Ibrahim

Fourth image (left to right): Dr Christopher Parkinson and Associate Professor Maree Donna Simpson

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