The entire Symrise Group will be climate neutral in 2045. As it works to reach this objective, the company has taken action around the world and at all of its business locations to reduce CO2 emissions. The basis of these efforts is the company’s Low Carbon Transition Plan that applies to a wide range of areas.


Granada is one of Europe’s sunniest cities. The sun shines nearly seven hours a day there, in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. To make the most of this sunshine, Symrise installed photovoltaic modules on the roofs of the fragrance plant that it acquired in 2021. From a bird’s eye view, the sight is pretty impressive: The 4,800 square-meter system produces circa 1,600,000 kilowatt hours of power annually – enough to supply 385 German four-member households for a full year. The photovoltaic system meets 15 % of the power needs of the fragrance production operation.

The system in Spain is one of hundreds of steps that Symrise will take in coming years to reduce its CO2 emissions. “We formulated our climate strategy back in 2010, and we were one of the first companies to do so,” says Dr. Helmut Frieden, Vice President for Corporate Sustainability at Symrise. “At the time, we set the goal of cutting our CO2 emissions by one-third by 2020. We achieved this goal in 2016 and then immediately set more ambitious targets.” Symrise is striving to reach the below-1.5-degree target for Scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions – that is, the emission of greenhouse gases that arise directly in the production operation or come from purchased forms of energy. For Scope 3, which covers climate-damaging gases in the upstream and downstream supply chain, the company is working to reach the below-2-degree goal, Helmut Frieden says. By 2030, the Group aims to be climate neutral in Scope 1 and 2 and have reduced emissions by 30 % for Scope 3 – the entire Group should be climate neutral by 2045. Climate protection is important to Symrise and its business model. “We source most of our raw materials directly from nature. For this reason, it is only natural for us to protect the climate and foster biodiversity,” Helmut Frieden says.

Dr. Helmut Frieden works with the sustainability team at Symrise to achieve the company’s climate goals.

“We source most of our raw materials directly from nature. For this reason, it is only natural for us to protect the climate and foster biodiversity.”

Dr. Helmut Frieden,
Vice President Corporate Sustainability

To achieve these goals, the sustainability team in Holzminden has worked closely with the company’s locations in Germany to plan future years and decades and set investment totals. Initially, some relatively simple steps are to be taken. Things like installing photovoltaic systems and switching the company’s fleet to electric vehicles. After that, the technologically challenging part begins. “We plan to electrify our production operation in order to give up fossil fuels like natural gas,” Helmut Frieden says. Part of this transition involves installing electrode boilers for high-pressure steam networks or industrial heat pumps, among other things. But the planning extends much further than this. “We have also included the industrial-scale use of hydrogen in our plans, even though there are no networks for it right now,” Frieden says. “But we are confident that we can get started in 15 years.” The sustainability manager thinks the plans can be realized if Symrise continues to steadily grow as it has in the past. “We have directly included higher production volumes in order to be prepared for the future.” The investments are high, Frieden stresses. “But the investments will quickly pay for themselves in many places because we will take certain actions, such as sharply lowering our energy and CO2 costs,” he notes.

The activities carried out in Germany will now be rolled out worldwide. The first step in this process will identify the locations with the highest emission levels. Production operations in the United States cause more than half of all CO2 emissions. The next focal point is to be set there. Germany ranks second due to the size of the plants at the company’s headquarters. It is followed by Ecuador and Mexico. “We are now setting the exact amounts of investment by identifying the business locations with the highest optimization potential,” Helmut Frieden says.

France, where the Taste, Nutrition & Health segment primarily operates numerous plants, ranks fourth. From here, in Rennes in Brittany, Thierry Lenice reviews the plans. “We will start with our plants in the United States, Mexico and China and then quickly integrate all remaining production operations,” the Low Carbon Transition Manager says. He also works intensely with Scope 3, the core of which focuses on the carbon footprint of raw materials. “About 80 % of greenhouse gases are created during the production and transport of our natural substances,” Thierry Lenice says.

One focal area is the recipes for products whose life cycle was analyzed by his team in recent years. In addition to other aspects, this includes environmental impacts such as emissions of CO2 equivalents. To illustrate his point, Thierry Lenice has placed two glasses of a soft drink in front of him. One beverage is the original version. The other is a refined version made with an optimized recipe that is designed to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire product. “In the past, we used pure orange extract for this soft drink,” the manager says. “We have now changed the flavoring ingredients by using a different mixture. We previously used 100 % orange extract from Brazil. We changed the recipe to include 20 % domestic mushroom extract that contributes the same texture and the same flavor.” Both products are totally natural, taste the same – and the new mixture produces fewer greenhouse gases along the entire value chain. 

With the help of this eco-design, emissions can be reduced by an average of 30 %. As part of this effort, Thierry Lenice also focuses on local producers. “We work closely with them,” he says. “On the one hand, we assess their efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and, on the other hand, consider ways that we can help them become more sustainable,” Thierry Lenice says. But he adds that the suppliers who work with thousands of small farmers face some challenges in this effort. “Due to their size alone, it is not easy for many of them to meet and document the standards,” he says. Lenice considers this type of collaboration to be especially important. “We live from agriculture and obtain our raw materials there,” he says. “By playing an active role here, we can pull the right levers and make our products more sustainable.”

“About 80 % of greenhouse gases are created during the production and transport of our natural substances.”

Thierry Lenice,
Manager Low Carbon Transition