Sustainability is everyone’s business

Symrise promotes climate protection and a clean environment around the globe. 120 Sustainability Ambassadors are actively involved in projects and initiatives dedicated to sustainable thinking and behavior worldwide.

Many Symrise employees do their part every day for a better, more sustainable world. Every day. Is that excessive? Not at all! Environmental protection and care are important topics at all times. Both are also core components of the Symrise sustainability agenda (FISC). Getting involved on a personal level requires a degree of willingness that goes beyond your job description and, occasionally, even tenacity – both during and outside of work. It looks a little something like this: When Bonita Haikalis, Human Resources Manager, APAC in Sydney, concludes her daily environmental activities in the evening, Mariana Martins, Environment and Sustainability Coordinator, LATAM in Brazil, is just getting up and starting her day with her own projects. At the same time, Dominic Mangione, Material Planning, Flavor EAME in Braunschweig, Yolanda van der Riet, Area Sales Manager, Nutrition EAME in Cape Town, and Gaelle Le Goff, Sensory Project Leader, S&C EAME in Paris, are already in the thick of it around noon. When the day begins to wind down in Germany, South Africa and France, Bonita is just getting started on the other side of the world.

Bonita, Mariana, Dominic, Yolanda and Gaelle are all Sustainability Ambassadors. There are currently 120 of them at Symrise around the globe and their number is only growing. The ambassadors successfully identify, initiate, launch, promote and work on a multitude of sustainability projects around the world and thus, with each project, make a direct contribution to climate protection, the environment and society.

Sustainability is an integral part of our business model.

Doris Gattermann, Manager Corporate Sustainability

Less plastic I

Many Symrise locations around the world are now implementing the plastic avoidance and reduction project. The Holzminden employees had already used and thrown away 20,000 plastic cups for weighing smaller volumes, but now rely on 50 small reusable metal cups. Braunschweig is improving its en­vironmental footprint by replacing disposable plastic cups with cups made from laminated paper. As of January 2020, all disposable plastic cups are banned, thus eliminating the use of 51,000 plastic cups annually. Brazil introduced a zero plastic cup policy at its four locations on December 16, 2019. An impressive feat: from 669,350 cups each year to 0 (ZERO!).


The Sustainability Ambassadors are active in all of the Group’s divisions and regions. All of them have made it their mission in their job and beyond to “make sustainability everyone’s business and thus together create a sustainable culture and environ-ment for Symrise and everyone involved,” says Doris Gattermann, Manager Corporate Sustainability in Holzminden. This does not go against the company’s economic goals by any means. In fact, “We strive for economic success and, at the same time, embrace our responsibility to the environment, our employees and society. Sustainability is an integral part of our business model at Symrise,” she emphasizes.

What exactly are Bonita, Mariana, Dominic, Yolanda, Gaelle and their colleagues doing? There are always hundreds of Sym-rise sustainability projects going on around the globe, whether it’s avoiding plastic cups, collecting used oil and electronic scrap worldwide, sustainable competitions for craftspeople, hygiene support for girls or checkups for people in rural parts of Africa, the rescue and rearing of seals, vegetable garden projects for healthy nutrition for poor people in South Africa, the building of bee hotels or company bicycles for “exercise” breaks for employees in Braunschweig and Paris.

“Many of our initiatives are dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint on all continents as well as establishing methods of sustainable business all over. With our initiatives and projects, we want to demonstrate that even smaller measures can have a positive impact and thus increase the focus on sustainable behavior,” says Doris. In more concrete terms, it’s about eliminating disposable plastics, reducing waste, minimizing water, energy and resource consumption, but also about work and life security, collaboration with communities and sustainable recreation and sports activities during free time.

Waste separation

In the UK, employees are carefully reducing, separating and recycling trash in line with the motto “Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!” Recycling bins are also available for the home.

The employees in Indonesia are now also carefully separating trash, which not only is good for the environment but “also enhances our work environment and reduces odors,” according to the employees.

In Australia, a “waste committee” trained all of the employees on how to reduce and recycle trash at work and at home. Labs, fac­tories, warehouses and offices were inspected in an effort to reduce the use of plastics, paper and chemicals. The company has already achieved its waste reduction goals and even exceeded some of them.

The Sustainability Ambassadors always include their colleagues in conversations about topics such as company and division strategies and invite them to participate in concrete activities and projects. The ambassador network is open, and everyone is encouraged to get involved (contact information at the end). Global controllers ensure the flow of information between the Symrise headquarters, the Sustainability Board and divisions by means of regular conversations with the regional coordinators, who in turn ensure contact to the local and regional ambassadors and together encourage and promote sensible employee activities and initiatives addressing local issues. Above all, the exchange of ideas and experiences is also important for achieving even more together and across regions.

One of these is Gaelle Le Goff, who has worked at Symrise Clichy since 2018 and is fully dedicated to reducing the use of plastic cups. “I do my very best every day to minimize my personal carbon footprint and live a sustainable life. So it’s only natural that I’d do the same at Symrise,” she says, explaining her motivation. Working with her team, Gaelle has significantly reduced the use of disposable plastic cups at the Clichy location. “We explained to every employee that plastic waste has a huge impact on biodiversity and human health. And then we offered everyone a personally designed cup, and they all jumped at the chance.” Next, the employees in Paris want to achieve “zero plastic.” As a result, even guests are now offered reusable cups, which has proven to be a success. The next set of concrete goals have already been defined: “We’re planning to compost biowaste locally. And we’d like to make the donation of market samples more eco-friendly – for cosmetic and hygiene products as well as food for both people and pets,” reports Gaelle.

We can only create a sustainable environment with people who are aware of this.

Dominic Mangione, Material Planning, Flavor EAME

Less plastic II

In France, 2,000 reusable spoons are replacing the 20,000 plastic spoons used annually for tastings at the Dairy Center.

The team in Thailand replaced in July 2019 plastic bottles with compostable cups made from renewable biomass, which generates 70 percent less greenhouse gas since it decomposes in landfills. The company has eliminated 144 bottles a month..

In Indonesia the employees are now also bringing their own cups to reduce the number of plastic bottles.

We want to fully neutralize carbon dioxide in landfills.

Mariana Martins, Environment and Sustainability Coordinator, LATAM

Mariana Martins in Brazil is one of the longest-serving Sustainability Ambassadors in the Symrise network. She has been a member of the local Sustainability Committee since 2012 and a Sustainability Ambassador in the LATAM region since 2014. Mariana has already initiated and overseen several dozen projects. “We’re currently working on two especially challenging issues,” she says. “We want to achieve carbon neutrality and are developing concepts to avoid landfill waste (Zero Waste to Landfill). And when it comes to procurement, we want to consistently ensure seamless tracing for raw materials, which is some-thing many customers demand these days.”

Dominic Mangione in Braunschweig has been focusing on sustainability for some time now, as it was also the topic of his thesis. “That’s just the way I was brought up. I behave as sustainably as possible in my free time. And what works in your private life can also be applied to your job,” he says with confidence. Cycling event, trash separation, the banning of 51,000 plastic cups and 13,500 plastic bags – the list of concrete activities is long in Braunschweig. But with all of the activities that Dominic has overseen in recent years in Germany, one thing has become clear: “We can only create a sustainable environment if people are informed about key issues such as consumer behavior and responsible use of resources. Everyone can do their part!”

Bonita Haikalis came to Symrise from the Australian agricultural food industry in 2016. “I had committed myself to clean, green, safe food there, too. The Symrise Sustainability Ambassadors and their network provide some real momentum for our activities here,” she says. Australians are increasingly focused on safety days, waste reduction and recycling. “And we at Symrise can offer them what they’re looking for,” says Bonita with pride.

The ambassador network provides some real momentum for our activities.

Bonita Haikalis, Human Resources Manager, APAC


The Thailand location recycles trash in line with the Circular Economy concept, with the resulting materials used to create envelopes, fruit and bread bags, wrapping film, bubble wrap, sanitary napkin disposal bags and ice packs. The Circular Economy concept uses resources, reduces plastic waste and minimizes the production of new consumables. Employees in Brazil donated old IT equipment to institutions and young people, ensuring that computers and printers are used a second time. UK locations no longer throw out food, but instead give it to local charity organizations and a food bank. Employees in Singapore don’t throw away food either, instead donating it to a good cause. In collaboration with the Alliance Française de Sambava and the support of schools and other private partners, a Zero-Waste Picnic and Beach Clean Day were held in Madagascar to raise awareness of local environmental issues such as waste management, air and marine pollution, and deforestation. Participants managed to collect 14 tons of waste and 128 kilograms of plastic.

We have to take people’s worries into account with our activities.

Yolanda van der Riet, Area Sales Manager, Nutrition EAME

Yolanda van der Riet faces unique challenges in South Africa. Her daily work is different from that of many other ambassadors because Africa is still one of the poorest continents. With so many other things to worry about, the environment often ends up on the back burner. “We have to take that into account when it comes to our activities,” explains Yolanda. “For example, in collaboration with Child Welfare and the Dignity Campaign, we organized two events in 2018 that provided 100 local schoolgirls with a ‘dignity pack’ in the rural part of the Western Cape. These hygiene products in the packs make it possible for these girls to attend school even when they’re menstruating.” The dignity pack lasts five years, says Yolanda with pride. The South African Sustainability Ambassadors are currently transforming packaging waste into money in many places to finance additional projects. Services for mental health, checkups and early detection are in the pipeline. “Many Africans are hearing these terms for the first time in their lives,” says Yolanda.

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS The Symrise Sustainability Ambassadors have been successfully managing many projects big and small for years. While none of them are exactly a revolution on their own, each one offers measurable benefits. But when you consider all of the activities as a whole, the company, the Sustainability Ambassadors and all of the Symrise employees are making a major contribution to climate protection, the environment and society around the world,” says Doris with confidence.

The network of Sustainability Ambassadors is a Symrise sustainability lighthouse project. Through their commitment, these employees embrace their responsibility to our customers, consumers, staff, society and the environment and thus make an invaluable contribution to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Bertram, CEO

Discover more about the 17 SDGs in the SymPortal:

Further information on the ambassador network can be found here:

How does one become a Sustainability Ambassador?

Campaigning for the environment and your fellow human beings shows that you’re responsible and take a clear stance. If you’re interested in sustainability and motivated to get involved in projects and inspire your colleagues, you’re just the right person to join the Sustainability Ambassadors. Involvement in this project runs parallel to your job.

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