Corporate | Sustainability

Discontinues use of plastic
— Flavor division quality control uses tasting cups made entirely of recycled cardboard

The employees at the Symrise corporate headquarters in Holzminden use approximately 500,000 plastic cups every year to evaluate the taste of flavoring ingredients. They use each cup only once. The total amount reaches 300,000 cups for the sensory quality control of flavors alone: “They process approximately 450 samples per day and need four disposable cups per sample, bringing us to the enormous amount of 1,800 per day,” says Albrecht Kessel. This led the head of the Sensory department to consider how he and his team can minimize their plastic waste in line with the sustainability strategy of Symrise.

After doing research on suitable replacement material, Kessel submitted a suggestion for improvement. His idea: switching to cardboard cups made of recycled material. Symrise adopted this suggestion. “This allows us to make an important contribution toward becoming more sustainable at Symrise,” explains Kessel.

Other departments such as Application Technology for savory products have already joined Albrecht Kessel’s initiative and are also switching to the new cardboard cups. “We have received thoroughly positive feedback,” explains Kessel, who hopes this initiative will serve as an example for other departments. The new sampling cups will soon reach the warehouse and can all departments can use them. In addition, Technical Purchasing is currently surveying the market to find a suitable, more sustainable solution for all departments in the company.

Sensory quality control is currently making the switch to the new cups. Kessel estimates that Symrise Holzminden will replace all cups by the end of the first quarter. The new ones will be made exclusively of cardboard from recycled material. “This is the right time to take this step since the European Union is likely to ban or at least restrict the use of disposable plastic products next year,” says Dr. Claus Oliver Schmidt, Head of Global Quality & Regulatory Affairs.

Avoiding waste ranks top among the environmental goals on the sustainability agenda of Symrise. The reduction of plastic usage in the company alone justifies various adjustments, beginning with packaging material and extending to disposable and reusable containers. The company will ban disposable plastic by the end of 2021. The Group intends to use exclusively sustainable materials by 2025.

In order to avoid paper waste as well, Symrise is working on and testing the next phase. The goal: a solution that uses fully compostable cups.