From the Sustain­ability Record

Our sustainability reporting fulfills the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines as set out in the current version of the GRI Standards (2016). In doing so, we conform to the highest application level “In accordance – Comprehensive,” which means that we fully account for all the essential topics. The following chapter describes which topics we define as essential and which approach to strategic sustainability we have adopted. All quantitative and qualitative information has been made available in our online sustainability record. All of the information located there has been subjected to an external audit in accordance with the AA1000 Assurance Standard. We also meet the requirements for a Communication on Progress within the framework of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary initiative on corporate responsibility.

Sustainable Added Value

Our corporate strategy is systematically oriented towards sustainable growth. For us, this includes the permanent and robust expansion of our business that considers ecological and social conditions, works towards increasingly efficient production and maintains a portfolio that helps meet the basic needs of a growing world population. To achieve this, we formulate goals along the entire value chain. For us it is clear that a broader view that transcends narrow corporate structures not only ensures growth and increases our efficiency, but also puts us in a position to further develop our portfolio of innovative and sustainable products. By continuing to dovetail financial and non-financial performance indicators, we seek to demonstrate even more clearly the business relevance of our sustainability management plan and, in doing so, deliver quantifiable added value for the environment and for society (see Our Company).

From our point of view, the way our company grows and prospers is crucial. In a world that is becoming ever more interconnected, chasing profits in the short term is not an appropriate plan for those who wish to set the agenda with future-oriented business models. Therefore, we are constantly on the lookout for common ground and sound solutions where everyone – from the supplier of the raw materials to the consumer – is able to profit. With our pioneering work, for example in Madagascar (see New Raw Materials and Products Sourced from Nature’s Diversity), we are creating new types of synergies between all stakeholders and, in the process, making an important contribution to achieving the United Nations sustainable development goals.

Looking to our core business, we have concentrated our ambitions for sustainability within the four pillars of our sustainability agenda: Footprint, Innovation, Sourcing and Care. This is how we closely link our economic goals to our everyday responsibility to the environment, employees and society. Only when our interactions with each other are rooted in integrity can we create lasting added value for all. In the long term, our values are paving the way for us to become the most successful company in our sector, and to inextricably fuse economic success, sustainable corporate governance and social acceptance.

Minimize our environmental footprint along the value chain

Maximize positive social & environmental impacts of our products

Maximize the sustainability of our supply chain and raw materials

Improve well-being in our stakeholder communities

Integrated Sustainability Management

Organization and Implementation

Back in 2009, we founded the Symrise Sustainability Board, a global, cross-divisional corporate body that aims to integrate the principles of sustainability more strongly into our core processes. Multiple times per year, representatives from management come together within this framework to ensure that sustainability-relevant topics and the concerns of our important stakeholder groups are considered along the entire value chain. In 2016, the Executive Board also created the position of Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in order to further advance the systematic integration of our sustainability principles. The CSO reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and functions as the Director of the Sustainability Board.

The Sustainability Board sets sustainability objectives, which are then directly implemented in the respective divisions. This is why the Executive Board and the Sustainability Board have appointed officers who are responsible for sustainability in the Flavor, Nutrition and Scent & Care business segments, as well as one representative each from Human Resources, Finance/Investor Relations, and Corporate Communications. Direct responsibility for strategy lies with the Chief Executive Officer of Symrise AG, who receives regular reports on the progress of all sustainability activities.

We manage sustainability in corporate processes using our Integrated Management System. It is based on the international standards on quality (ISO 9001), environmental protection (ISO 14001), work safety (OHSAS 18001), sustainability (ISO 26000), energy (ISO 50001), social responsibility (SA 8000), the generally accepted audit standards of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and other recognized local standards.

Whatever their division, managers have a particularly important role to play in making the topic of sustainability operational in their teams and laying out clear goals. In 2013, we began to anchor our sustainability objectives in the individual performance targets of those managers directly involved. Since then, we have been pressing ahead with the setting of concrete sustainability objectives for all managers. To anchor these topics within the organization and in the minds of all of our employees, we regularly conduct activities such as our Symrise Sustainability Day at our sites. Here, we present practical examples demonstrating to our employees how sustainable development can be initiated and implemented in the various departments at Symrise.

Our Central Topics

In 2016, we continued taking a critical look at our most important topics. In addition to our strategic orientation, the identification of essential concerns also serves to structure our reporting in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative Standards: We provide comprehensive reporting on topics that are important to Symrise and to society as a whole. We provide a report with at least one indicator on topics that have a high relevance in only one dimension. We provide comprehensive, transparent information on our sustainability activities and key figures in our online sustainability report.

The analysis of our central topics is based on our “Sharing Values” approach. We analyze sustainability aspects and spheres of activity, taking into account their “value for society” and “value for Symrise.” This allows us to identify topics with the greatest potential for creating shared value. In the process, we expanded our business activities in 2016, and identified “sustainable forestry” as well as “sustainable agriculture and aquaculture” as areas where we can become more active. For the sake of effective management, we divided what was originally one combined topic, “resource conservation and emission reduction,” into two separate spheres of activity, and then singled out “water” as a stand-alone topic. In 2016, we were able to ascertain a higher social value to the company for compliance, transparency and credibility, as well as for occupational health and safety. Biodiversity and human rights have once again gained in significance for creating value at Symrise. As to the topic of renewable raw materials, we were able to significantly increase our share of renewable raw materials thanks to our acquisition of Diana and Renessenz, allowing us to now be able to approach this topic downstream.

Goals and management of material topics

You can find a detailed description of our management system, objectives and results, as well as how we contribute to the sustainable development goals here.


In an effort to minimize our ecological footprint, we constantly optimize our entire value chain by looking at how to reduce emissions, conserve resources and maintain biodiversity. By doing so, we ensure that our business activities remain viable in the long term, reduce risks, and cut expenses.

We’ve set ourselves some ambitious goals for reducing emissions . By 2020, we want to reduce our direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 4 % annually – pursuant to Scope 1 and Scope 2 of the GHG Protocol. Given our 5.4 % reduction in greenhouse gases in 2016, we are well on our way. In addition, we have been recording all essential emissions within the meaning of Scope 3 of the GHG Protocol since 2011. Of these, about 90 %, by far the largest share, can be traced back to upstream production of raw materials. As part of the Science Based Targets Initiative, we have committed ourselves to achieving the global objective of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius over the long term. Every year, CDP, an independent initiative for investors, confirms our continuing progress in reducing emissions. For the second year in a row, we have received the best possible rating of “A” for the area of climate and, as such, have been added to the climate A list. This rating places us in the top 4 % of the best companies on the MDAX® and in the best 11 % in our sector. Accordingly, Symrise was honored by CDP as an Index / Country Leader (“MDAX®”) as well as a Sector Leader (“Energy & Materials”). Our A- grade in the 2016 CDP Supplier Engagement Rating also placed us way ahead of the average grade of C-. The grade confirms our successful collaboration with our suppliers to reduce negative environmental effects in the supply chain. In addition, the A- rating in the CDP Ratings for Water and Forests reflects our role as a trailblazer in the area of conserving natural resources.

A Shining Example of Efficiency

Symrise sources onions, one of its primary raw materials, from contractual farmers in the region. Significantly lower transport costs and storage expenses save both money and energy. At the same time, the quality is optimized in close collaboration with farmers and research institutes. Nearly 100 % of the raw material is used.

We see the effective conservation of resources as an important mechanism in terms of contributing to the sustainability and profitability of the company. By investing in efficient technologies and processes, we are able to reduce raw materials and save on the costs connected to them. One example of this is our patented SymTrap® process. This enables us to reclaim high-quality natural aromas from the byproducts that result from the processing of raw materials. Ever since we acquired Pinova Holdings in 2016, the topic of sustainable forestry has been gaining in significance for us. Analyses have demonstrated that a large share of the suppliers in question have already been certified in accordance with the criteria laid out by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®-C139971) or the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). By participating in the CDP Forest Program, we are also bringing transparency to our progress and our approaches in this matter. Our Symchronize™ initiative proves that conserving resources also means reducing costs. With the aim of “Excellence in the Supply Chain” we develop end-to-end supply chain solutions in order to identify starting points and potential reductions in our energy, water, and resource consumption, and implement these together with our partners in the supply chain.

Symrise views global biodiversity as an indispensable source of inspiration and natural raw materials from which we continuously create new aromas and fragrances. The protection of biodiversity is of paramount importance to Symrise. As one of the first signatories of the Business & Diversity Pledge in 2016, we have agreed to demonstrate our commitment in this field. As part of the UN Convention, this voluntary commitment testifies to Symrise’s pledge to worldwide protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as to equitable distribution of the benefits arising from using genetic resources (see New Raw Materials and Products Sourced from Nature’s Diversity).

For Environmentally Friendly Commerce

As part of the “commit to action” scheme from the CDP investor initiative, and “We mean Business,” Symrise has also committed itself to setting science-based climate objectives that are in harmony with the findings of the Paris Convention. The aim is to restrict global warming to substantially less than 2°C. Symrise is one of the first German companies that have committed themselves to this goal. In this program, we even include the emission-reducing activities of our suppliers.

With the commissioning of our cogeneration power plant in summer 2016, we have already taken an important step in reducing our production-related emissions. As such, we are reducing our CO2 emissions from energy production by 35 % annually.


For Symrise, innovation means working in international teams, envisaging the future for and with our customers, and developing sustainable solutions to secure and strengthen our future as a company. In this endeavor, stringent regulatory requirements form the groundwork.

We view sustainability itself as a key driver of innovation. By adhering to strict sustainability criteria in product development, we maximize our products’ social and ecological added value and generate value for our customers and stakeholders. We are building on eco-friendly chemistry, resource-efficient production and the opportunities presented by new technologies and digitalization. We create a customized sustainability concept for each of our strategic product groups. The “Product Sustainability Scorecard System,” which we developed ourselves, makes an important contribution to developing innovative and sustainable product solutions . The independently certified procedure allows us to record the environmental impact of raw materials and products in a systematic manner, and to merge the findings into a scientific analysis. The ten dimensions of sustainability that have been incorporated into this system include traceability, water consumption, the influence of biodiversity in the supply chain, as well as the biodegradability of products. The goal: to select the environmentally friendliest option from all of the available alternatives.

We promote innovation in our company by offering our employees a platform where they can contribute creative and promising ideas. At Diana Food’s global IDAY in 2015, more than 500 employees presented nearly 1,400 ideas. The best suggestions are currently being implemented locally, regionally, and globally. In order to add as many perspectives as possible to our innovative endeavors, we are also cooperating with an international network consisting of experts, institutions of higher learning and life science companies. As part of the degree program in Industrial Biotechnology at the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, we are working, for example, on alternative production methods for flavors. Along with food engineers at the University in Gießen, we are researching new production concepts that are based on modern food biotechnology procedures. We are tackling new challenges with a fresh spirit of innovation. For example, we are working with IKEA to develop healthier products for sale in their IKEA bistro. Today, consumers can choose from eight soft drinks made from natural extracts and flavors and containing 50 % less sugar than before without any loss of flavor.

Sustainable Innovation

Thanks to our Product Sustainability Scorecard, we are in a position to document the impact of each individual substance in our products at every link in the value chain. With this, we allow our customers to compare available alternatives and select the most environmentally friendly option.

When we develop innovative products, guaranteeing maximum product safety is our top priority. In addition to our own strict requirements on quality, we also adhere to the Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines, which serve to ensure the quality of the production processes and environments found in our industry. Independent audits and accredited certification testify to our compliance with these standards.

Increasing statutory regulations are influencing innovation and further strategic development, and help determine our agenda. In the Scent & Care segment, one of the main activities in 2016 centered around the new registration or updating of registered substances based on the criteria laid out in the European chemicals regulation REACH. To date, we have submitted new and updated dossiers for more than 30 substances to ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency. In addition, because we are a global company, we have to fulfill a multitude of different requirements. For example, various legally binding criteria governing the purity of flavoring substances have been introduced in many countries over the last few years. These vary from country to country and have not been harmonized with one another. The requirements in the EU are quite different than those in China, for instance.

Innovative Concepts for Product Safety

The market launch of the preservative SymOcide® C reflects the innovative and solution-oriented approach to product development at Symrise. We need increasingly safe, effective and approved alternatives to those traditional preservatives used in cosmetics. Our SymOcide® C offers a modern solution in terms of product safety. It can work as an effective preservative in many cosmetic products and, owing to its antimicrobial properties, it is particularly well suited for oral hygiene products such as toothpaste.


Our long-term objective is to source all of our raw materials in a manner that is as sustainable as possible. We do not simply seek to minimize negative environmental or human rights impacts in our supply chain, but rather to create real value for all stakeholders. Here at Symrise, we view sustainable procurement as a prerequisite for the company’s long-term commercial success. By using 10,000 natural and synthetic raw materials from over 100 countries, we are heavily reliant on the availability of these raw materials, as well as their quality and price stability. We are confronted with this because of our close cooperation with our customers and suppliers and our advancement of social and ecological standards in developing countries and emerging markets.

At Symrise, responsible procurement is a matter of course and an essential requirement, but in practice, however, this poses certain challenges, not least because of a lack of transparency, highly complex material flows, and differing objectives among the participants involved in the value chain. That’s why the first step is to clearly define guidelines and ensure maximum traceability of the raw materials. All our suppliers must adhere to the Symrise Code of Conduct and deliver full disclosure as to the origin of their raw materials. As a SEDEX member, we can also rate the performance of our main suppliers in terms of factors such as rights , the environment, health and safety, integrity and additional ethical criteria, and disclose our findings to our customers. All of our production facilities are audited by independent certification companies in line with the SMETA 4-Pillar Standard and beyond. During the year under review, no significant deviations were found.

In 2016, we developed a new Symrise sourcing policy that applies to the entire Group. This holistic description of our goals, standards and instruments serves, first and foremost, as a reference document for our suppliers, customers and employees. We have also established specific policies for those raw materials that pose a higher risk, such as palm oil. In addition, we are currently working on a policy for animal welfare . Although Symrise itself does not process any animals, the share of raw materials originating from animals has increased with our acquisition of Diana, which is why we also place such importance on clear and responsible standards in this area.

Long-Term Viable Solutions

Together with Unilever and GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation), we further expanded our long-standing commitment to Madagascar, and our associated partnership with Save the Children, in 2016. The initiative directly supports vanilla farmers and their communities in order to improve their livelihood, promote more integrative communities, and help the farmers’ children in the long term.

There are many challenges in the supply chain that we cannot solve on our own. That’s why we rely more and more on collaboration within the sector and precompetitive approaches where we work together with other market participants to develop viable long-term solutions. This includes our memberships in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the Sustainable Spices Initiative and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Within the period under review, we also joined the Natural Resource Stewardship Circle, a nonprofit organization that advocates for more sustainability in the cosmetics industry supply chain. We also support the industry association, Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI), which promotes sustainable practices in agriculture.

We can best pursue and sustain our objective of sustainable procurement if we are able to have a direct influence on the upstream links in our value chain. Therefore, when it comes to our key raw materials, we pursue the goal of strategic backward integration. As we have demonstrated with vanilla production in Madagascar, we are able to create direct value for all participants. As part of our numerous social projects, we focus our efforts specifically on improving and implementing environmental and social standards. This guarantees, for us and for our customers, consistently high quality in terms of raw materials.

Precompetitive Approaches in the Supply Chain

In 2016, Symrise joined the Natural Resource Stewardship Circle, where we and other companies in our industry jointly advocate for a reduction in the negative impacts on biodiversity which may arise from business activities. To achieve this objective, our focus is on the social and economic development of local communities. The recommendations of international guidelines such as the Global Compact of the United Nations or the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are transposed into concrete measures.


To us, “care” means speaking up for the people within our company and in society. We rely on skilled and motivated employees who make the difference when it comes to our company’s success. At Symrise, we strive to offer our people the best possible environment where they are able to self-actualize. In addition, we also accept the social responsibility that we bear beyond our own company. Our stringent plant safety measures minimize the negative impacts on society and the environment, and support the local infrastructure of the communities where our facilities are located.

The diversity of our employees is an essential component in Symrise’s corporate culture. The people who work at Symrise provide us with a wealth of ethnic, cultural, religious, gender and age backgrounds. It is exactly this diversity that we see as the source of our company’s creativity, and it fuels our innovation. The perspectives that Symrise employees bring to the table enrich the company by offering a range of opinions whose synergies create innovative solutions. In order to harness this potential, we systematically promote diversity and equal opportunity . Thanks to our guidelines for hiring and developing employees, our diversity program ensures that the diversity of our staff is maintained and expanded. This includes, for example, our targeted increases in the number of women in leadership positions. We would like to be an employer of choice for our employees, and we are striving for an employee commitment to our company into the year 2020 that matches the level of commitment we encountered in our employee engagement surveys in 2012 and 2016 (see Interview Dr. Natzel). By regularly conducting employee engagement surveys, we are able to demonstrate the partnership-like attitude of our employees and the authentic commitment of our company as an employer of choice.

We attach great importance to the consistent adherence to occupational health and safety in the daily activities of our employees. To comply with the specific requirements at each of our global locations, we defer to those with local authority to coordinate the occupational health and safety measures. We call this our decentralized approach. Prevention is the key to making our vision of a “zero-accident culture” a reality. For example, managers ensure their employees’ safety at work by regularly conducting “management safety walk-arounds.” This is done to demonstrate to our employees our commitment to the goal of reducing accidents at work and to ingrain occupational safety in our corporate culture. In 2016, we also laid the foundation for investigating near misses at work. In this process, even incidents where an accident was narrowly avoided are also documented in a standardized process. With this move, we are expanding our focus on accident prevention so that we not only consider accidents that actually occurred but also increase our potential for improvement by learning from potentially dangerous situations as well. In addition, we are committed to preventative health care for our staff. “Symply Healthy,” our program to raise awareness and engage our staff, is making employees more cognizant of how they can consciously look after their health.

We focus our attention on safety in our facilities so that employees, the environment, and the local community are protected. In this vein, our Corporate Guidelines lay out the safety standards that apply equally to all of our production facilities around the world. Our subsidiary, TESIUM, guarantees that the plants and facilities meet our safety requirements. In addition, this subsidiary not only analyzes safety aspects, but it also studies environmental impact and energy consumption over the entire life cycle of our facilities and, in doing so, also identifies potential optimizations in these areas.

Our Path to Becoming a Zero-Accident Culture

Ever since we rolled out our “zero-accident culture,” we have established a series of measures to make this ambitious goal a reality. In addition to our detailed analyses of the causes of accidents and the uniform reporting we have introduced for the entire Group, face-to-face training and online training modules form the basis of our culture of safety at work. The content of the training is tailored to the needs of the individual areas and seeks to strengthen the idea of personal responsibility.