SDG 1: Symrise is taking a look at its entire supply chain – from local small-scale farmers as raw material suppliers to the end consumer – to find approaches to creating added value that benefit everyone. Together with local partners, sponsoring and support for nonprofit projects, we are making a contribution to poverty reduction worldwide.
SDG 2: For sustainable farming and food security, we are committed to working in partnership with the direct producers of our raw materials. Through our strategy of backward integration, we can exert direct influence on upstream stages of the value chain in line with our sustainability goals and thus effectively promote the implementation of sustainable cultivation methods for biologically based raw materials from agriculture or forestry, for example. We also aim to achieve maximum raw material efficiency and the avoidance of food waste through the complete recycling of raw materials or the use of secondary products (mostly byproducts from the food industry).
SDG 3: The Occupational health and safety of our employees is particularly important in our industry. Our concept of a zero-accident culture, workshops for managers and regular internal and external audits drive the topic within the company. Various preventative health measures demonstrate our comprehensive approach to helping employees lead healthier lifestyles. Prior to hiring new employees, we conduct medical examinations at all our sites worldwide and initiate preventative measures such as vaccinations.
SDG 4: The contribution to high-quality training and lifelong learning begins, of course, with the employees of Symrise. Through gender-inclusive training sessions and opportunities and workshops for our employees as well as (social) education projects on sustainable agriculture, we impart knowledge and promote learning and education in our supply chain.
SDG 5: At Symrise, we see diversity as inherently valuable to our creativity and integrity. The advancement of women in management positions is particularly important to us. Symrise AG aims to achieve a 20 % share of women on the Executive Board in the long term. Measures related to specific persons have been agreed between the Supervisory Board and the Executive Board for this purpose. Nevertheless, we must respect current employment contracts and ensure continuity in the Executive Board. The current members of the Executive Board have contracts that extend into the years 2020 to 2024.
SDG 6: We consider the availability of high-quality fresh water to be essential for our activities, so we are committed to the efficient use of water and the reduction of wastewater volumes and emissions at our sites around the world. We also provide information locally about the significance of sustainable water use. We regularly disclose our commitment and results on the subject of water through the Water Program of the CDP investor initiative.
SDG 7: As a company in a relatively energy-intensive industry, our production is reliant on an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy supply. That’s why we are constantly working on making our processes more and more efficient. At our locations around the world, we focus on a wide variety of energy-saving measures and promote the use of renewable energies – from solar modules to our own cogeneration plant at our largest company site in Holzminden.
SDG 8: We believe that economic success, sustainability and social acceptance are inextricably linked. The corporate strategy of Symrise therefore incorporates aspects of sustainability at all levels in order to enhance the company’s value over the long term, minimize risks and take advantage of new opportunities. We see sustainability as a competitive advantage. For Symrise, sustainable management goes hand in hand with responsible human resources policy, humane working conditions and a clear commitment to human rights. We also require our suppliers and business partners to comply with these principles.
SDG 9: The long-term operational safety, environmental efficiency and profitability of our production facilities are of great importance to Symrise because of its industry. For this purpose, we have defined safety standards that apply to all our production sites worldwide and are regularly reviewed by internal audits and by our subsidiary TESIUM. We also invest in local infrastructure and health care.
SDG 10: Symrise creates equal value for all stakeholders worldwide by integrating the interests of our stakeholders at all levels of the value chain. Fair remuneration for employees regardless of gender is a matter of course for us. Through collective agreements in many countries and establishing pay categories, we ensure that differences in pay for equal work are impossible.
SDG 11: By promoting economic development in the various communities associated with our production sites in more than 40 countries, Symrise makes an indirect contribution to sustainable and safe urban spaces. In our supply chain, we also engage in local social and environmental initiatives – from sustainable food production to improved urban and rural health care.
SDG 12: The sustainable orientation of our products and processes is a quality standard that we pursue constantly – and as a matter of course. Through our green chemistry approach, we’re constantly further developing existing products and focusing on redesigning and completely overhauling processes using green chemistry and innovative technologies. Our products, which we constantly optimize, are assessed according to their sustainability impact.
SDG 13: As a manufacturing company, Symrise is responsible for minimizing any negative impacts on the climate. At our sites around the world, we rely on certified environmental and energy management systems and our own climate strategy. We demonstrate our progress in resource conservation and emission reduction in a number of ways, one of them being our annual participation in the CDP independent investor initiative.
SDG 14: Since the expansion of our portfolio with the Diana acquisition, sustainable use of marine resources has become all the more important to us. We’ve developed a sustainable approach to feeding fish with more nutritious feed, we do not have to buy additional fish for feed production and we contribute to the conservation of marine resources through various environmental goals and in cooperation with local producers.
SDG 15: Because we are dependent upon nature’s productive energies, the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity represent an existential interest to Symrise. For this reason, we are committed to the responsible sourcing of natural raw materials from sustainable cultivation or sustainable wild harvesting in accordance with internationally recognized biodiversity goals and criteria.
SDG 16: It goes without saying that we adhere to the laws of the countries in which we work. Often, our own standards even significantly exceed these laws. The ethical and legal foundations of everyday working life – from humane working conditions and decent employment to the prevention of corruption and bribery – are laid down in our Code of Conduct and in our actions at every site.
SDG 17: We cannot solve the global challenges of our time alone. This is why we increasingly rely on cooperative arrangements within the industry and pre-competitive approaches in which we can work together with our partners from the economy, science and civil society on long-term, viable solutions for sustainable development.
Symrise strives for the best possible, equal and safe working conditions for our employees and suppliers along the entire value chain. In doing so, equal pay for both men and women is a matter of course for us. By 2025, we aim to have at least 20 % women at the first global management level directly below the Executive Board, while the second global management level should consist of at least 25 % women. We pay taxes where we create value, thus contributing to enabling state and municipal investments in infrastructure and the common good. By 2025, we are planning for a global tax rate of an above-average 26 – 28 %.
The corporate strategy of Symrise is based on the three pillars of growth, efficiency and portfolio. It incorporates aspects of sustainability at all levels in order to enhance the company’s value over the long term and minimize risks. Having a responsible HR policy is part of our company culture. This also includes providing options for further qualification and training for our employees, promoting diversity among the workforce and enhancing the compatibility of professional and private life (see also “Career paths” ).
In 2018, we carried out a gender-specific analysis of the wages for male and female employees at our major sites. The example of our site in Germany, which has the most employees, shows that the average remuneration of women does not significantly deviate from the average remuneration of men (statistically insignificant differences of < 2 %). As part of this analysis, we adjusted the results to account for the personal decision of each employee working part time. The remaining insignificant differences result from production-specific components of remuneration such as hardship allowances or activity-related wages such as foremen’s or master craftsmen’s allowances, or are prescribed by the various remuneration levels specified by wage agreements for commercial or technical professions.
Our Integrated Management System is based on the provisions of the SA 8000 social accountability standard, which is binding throughout the company. It is based on the conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on Children’s Rights. Humane working conditions, decent employment and due consideration for the social aspects of employment are the foundation for how we act at every site. We also require our suppliers and business partners to uphold basic human rights. Before a new supplier or business partner is accepted, it must pledge in writing that it will maintain and comply with the provisions of the Symrise Code of Conduct. The international platform of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) is a valuable tool with which we can more easily assess suppliers and deliver our own data to customers. Since 2006, we have been publishing information on human rights, working conditions and employee rights, health and safety as well as on environmental and ethical business practices via this platform. Since 2012, we have requested that our most important suppliers register with SEDEX and disclose their data there so that we can conduct an assessment. For suppliers that pose an especially notable risk, that have crucial raw materials or that have had problems flagged in the assessment, we carry out audits ourselves or have audits carried out by independent companies. Furthermore, our approach to backward integration enables us to exert direct influence on adherence to our provisions.
We also focus on building strong local communities to ensure long-term supply chain stability and thus enable safe and strong growth. As part of our growth strategy, we work with communities in emerging markets to promote key developments that benefit all stakeholders.
In 2018, our global tax rate was 28.1 %. We are thus well above the average effective tax rate for companies in Germany.
Of the 9,694 employees in 2018 (previous year: 9,387), 3,806 were women. This corresponds to a proportion of 39.3 % (previous year: 38.7 %). With a proportion of women in 2018 of 27 % in the first management level (previous year: 21 %) and 42 % in the second management level in 2018 (previous year: 44 %), Symrise is well on its way to achieving the targets it has set for 2025.
There is currently no evidence of gender-specific unequal treatment of female and male employees at Symrise. However, differences in remuneration may result from the type of activity, such as shift work with corresponding shift remuneration. In our last major employee survey in 2016, around 5,400 of our employees took part (equaling a rate of 80 % in the participating countries). The positive feedback was overwhelming: 90 % were very satisfied or satisfied with their work, with 95 % stating that they would again take their current job without hesitation. This positive image of Symrise as an employer was also confirmed in 2018 by an award as one of Germany’s top employers – the company ranked eighth in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
The product range of Symrise comprises around 30,000 products that are used in 160 countries worldwide. The challenge for us is to develop products that meet the various demands and expectations of our customer base and, at the same time, are capable of generating long-lasting added value for our customers and society as a whole. For this reason, we create a customized sustainability concept for each strategic product group, allowing us to continually increase the positive benefits and simultaneously reduce the footprint of our products. By 2025, we aim to generate more than 12 % of our sales with new product developments.
For sustainable production, we have set ourselves corresponding targets in those areas where we have the greatest impact: by 2025, we aim to reduce our specific CO2 emissions by 50 % compared with 2016 and to reduce our chemical oxygen demand in water and our sensitive waste by 60 % each compared with 2010 (see also Track record and goals 2020/2025).
Innovation is a key driver of sustainability at Symrise. Using specific indicators based on the concept of planetary boundaries, we have been assessing how our products and projects contribute to sustainability since 2012. A key component for efficient processes and environmentally friendly products is our systematic application of the green chemistry approach: We are constantly refining our existing products while also concentrating on process redesigns and complete overhauls incorporating green chemistry and innovative technologies. This encompasses, for example, the development of our own technological solutions, such as our patented SymTrap® process. This procedure allows us to fully extract flavor-active components from the byproducts of raw materials processing – thereby achieving a maximum resource yield that simultaneously saves energy.
In addition, we devised an assessment system that enables us to identify each product’s specific impact on sustainability, for example, in terms of energy consumption, CO2 emissions or water usage. This way, we and our customers can steer product development with even greater precision and optimize the end product sustainably (see “Sustainability Scorecard” infographic). Our analysis and measurement methods were validated by an external assurance process.
The efficient use and the saving of natural resources is crucial for all our product innovations – both for the sustainability and profitability of Symrise. For example, we are successfully working on integrating suitable byproducts from agriculture, forestry, or food production, thereby increasing added value. Here, biotechnological approaches and new physical separation technologies are also being tested.
The most important raw materials for the production of fragrances from natural and renewable raw materials include crude sulphate turpentine, a byproduct of the pulp and paper industry, and D-limonene, a byproduct of the citrus industry. With renewable raw materials in mind, the focus is also increasingly on wood as a resource. An innovative product example is the fragrance SymroxaneTM: This novel fragrance produced using chemical reactions from a component of the tree resin of Asian pines has been on the market since June 2018. 91 % of the carbon atoms in a molecule are obtained from renewable resources.
Other examples include already existing products made from onions, for which the entire process chain has been reevaluated – from the choice of onion type to the agricultural cultivation to processing and waste reduction. This radical approach brings groundbreaking possibilities: For instance, it eliminates by-products, improves raw material efficiency and significantly reduces the carbon footprint of our products.
In 2018, we invested € 200 million (previous year: € 196 million) in research and development. 1,728 employees (previous year: 1,659) worked in this area in the reporting year and filed 60 patents (previous year: 42).
With 17.1 % of sales from new product developments, we have once again exceeded our target value of 12 % for 2025 (previous year: 15.9 %). With an increase in eco-efficiency demonstrated by reductions of 45 % in CO2 emissions, 71 % in chemical oxygen demand and 47 % in sensitive waste compared to 2010, we are well on our way to achieving the targets we set for 2025.
With our product sustainability scorecard, we can capture the impact of each individual ingredient of our products along the value chain. As a result, we enable our customers to select the most environmentally friendly path compared with available alternatives.
Symrise is committed to minimizing its footprint along the entire value chain. By 2025, we have set ourselves the target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 50 % in terms of value added compared with the base year 2016. We also require our suppliers, who supply raw materials accounting for at least 80 % of our total purchasing volume, to commit to their own climate targets and reduction measures by 2020. We ultimately want to be climate-positive by 2050 – among other things, by purchasing environmentally friendly energy sources and supplying surplus energy to local communities.
Our climate protection goals are based on four key areas: The conservation of valuable resources, the efficient sourcing of raw materials (see also SDG 12), the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems (see also SDGs 14 / 15) and the construction of green production sites. Our production sites with the highest potential environmental impacts are thus either located in countries with strict environmental policies and / or also operate according to an environmental management system that is ISO 14001 certified. Additionally, the SMETA 4-Pillar requirements are used as a minimum standard and regularly verified by external auditors. Furthermore, all German sites have an ISO 50001 certified energy management system.
In 2018, we focused on decoupling our dynamic growth in the various business units from their possible environmental impacts. We further optimized our energy balance in key areas via additional measures and placed a stronger focus on reducing emissions and effluents as part of Total Productive Maintenance. We document our progress regarding resource conservation and emission reduction in a number of ways, one of them being our participation in the CDP independent investor initiative.
Since 2018, Symrise has also been one of the 513 companies all over the world that supports the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The Task Force has dedicated itself to having companies disclose the financial impact of climate change on their companies in their annual reports. Companies share information about their governance, the effects on business activities and strategy, and opportunity and risk management, and they pursue their goals based on the key figures provided. The recommendations focus on the opportunities and risks resulting from the transition to a low-carbon economy. The TCFD also recommends explaining the potential effects of climate-related risks based on a variety of scenarios, such as global warming of 2°C. Symrise supports the goals of the initiative and already communicates a wealth of climate data in its annual corporate reports and as part of the CDP Climate Change investor initiative.
In 2018, Symrise was able to reduce specific CO2 emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 3.0 % compared with 2017 (2010 – 2017: 42 %). We are thus well on our way to achieving our goal. This is also reflected in external evaluations: In the reporting period, Symrise once again made an impressive showing in the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) rating. Despite considerably higher requirements for CDP Rating participants, Symrise ranked once again at the very top in the categories climate and forests with the rating of “A-”. With the very good rating of “B”, we also reached a position ahead of other well-known companies in the category water.
Symrise was the first company in the industry to have its climate strategy approved by the Science Based Target Initiative. This is an association of companies led by the Carbon Disclosure Project, the World Resources Institute, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the United Nations Global Compact. We are actively helping to limit global warming to below 2°C. Symrise is a role model in terms of climate protection in Germany and is acting in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Climate Conferences COP 21 in Paris and COP 22 in Marrakesh.
Global diversity of species is an indispensable source of inspiration and natural raw materials for Symrise in order to continue to create new flavors and fragrances. For this reason, maintaining biodiversity is an essential objective for Symrise. We have set ourselves a number of concrete goals to help protect biodiversity, including the development of biodiversity-based and innovative raw materials in our centers of excellence in Madagascar and Brazil by 2020. At the same time, we aim to fully integrate our research department in compliance with international regulations on biodiversity-based innovations. We intend to increase the share of main suppliers rated according to sustainability criteria to 100 % by 2025. Finally, by 2025, we want to obtain 100 % of our strategic agricultural and aquaculture raw materials from sustainable sources (see also Track record and goals 2020/2025).
Our signature in 2017 on the Business & Biodiversity Pledge from the UN Convention for Biodiversity means that we committed to implementing an operational biodiversity management system that supports the core objectives of the UN Biodiversity Convention. This comes in addition to the biodiversity agenda we published in 2014. This includes the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair division of the benefits resulting from the use of biodiversity with the countries of origin.
In 2016, Symrise joined the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) in order to strengthen the preservation and sustainable use of cultivation systems. 90 of the world’s most important food manufacturers and suppliers have joined this platform. Growers and raw materials suppliers we work with should fulfill certain criteria regarding water and land use, fertilization and pest control. The SAI also developed criteria that describe good expert practice, and also developed the Farm Sustainability Assessment – an easy-to-use tool for adopting and evaluating criteria fulfillment.
The benefit for participating companies: the ability to easily and independently compare suppliers all the way down to the individual growers. In Germany, Symrise used the Farm Sustainability Assessment with its onion farmers. Together, we look at farming technologies and production and then collect the data. Companies can use this to find raw materials and qualify them as sustainable, fulfilling customer requirements. The primary focus of our efforts is always a cooperative approach in which we work together with other actors to find suitable solutions, such as the sustainable cultivation of lavender (see “Favorite Fragrance”) or patchouli (see “The Cultivation Specialists”). The topic of sustainable forestry is also relevant to us for various application areas. Many of our suppliers are already certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and / or the Sustainable Forest Initiative. By participating in the CDP Forest Program, we can make our progress and approaches more transparent. Our two North American sites in Jacksonville, Florida, and Colonel’s Island, Georgia, have received Forest Stewardship Council certification. We also contribute to the preservation of oceans and seas and their biodiversity through various environmental goals along the entire value chain. For example, Symrise has developed a sustainable approach to feeding fish with food higher in nutrition that can be better absorbed by the fish, leading to better growth and lower mortality. What’s more, no additional fish need to be purchased to produce food. Thanks to higher tolerability, we were able to improve intake and thus reduce sediment.
In the area of biobased research and development, Symrise has also developed operating policies, governance structures, processes and measures to implement the criteria of the Nagoya Protocol across divisions in all relevant functional areas. In this way, we ensure that the procurement and research of biobased raw materials is carried out in accordance with international provisions and national regulations on access and benefit sharing – the third core objective of the UN Biodiversity Convention. Symrise is making an effective contribution to preserving biodiversity and supporting local communities in the countries where our natural raw materials originate, such as Brazil, Madagascar and beyond, by fairly distributing the benefits from the use of genetic resources.
At the end of 2018, 90 % of the main suppliers of Symrise (in terms of purchasing volume) had already been rated according to sustainability criteria. We have also started to increase the proportion of our sustainably-sourced strategic agricultural and aquaculture raw materials to 100 % by 2025. In 2018, we were also able to assess more than 98 % of our production sites according to sustainability criteria. In the reporting year, we were the first manufacturer of fragrances and flavorings to also receive certification from the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) for our byproducts originating from forestry production. Despite considerably higher requirements for CDP Rating participants, Symrise ranked once again at the very top in the forests category with the rating of “A-”.