Sustainability in the corporate world by and large means environmental programs ranging from alternative energy sources to purchasing emissions offsets. This creates good publicity and, yes, does its part to lessen damage to the earth. As sustainability has become a buzzword, consumers have grown more aware of issues such as climate change, and so corporations have been compelled to release sustainability reports marking progress toward specific goals. Naturally, cost-management and profitability are also important factors.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) was formed in 1997 to encourage companies to create sustainability reports and give them the tools to do so. While reporting is optional, many companies have begun participating. Over the past few years, many of the biggest companies in the flavor and fragrance industry, such as Firmenich, Givaudan and International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), have gotten involved in this trend, publishing reports that address water use, emissions, energy use and waste, in addition to ethical farming and supply chain management.
Of course, in the flavor and fragrance industry, the concept of sustainability is a little bit more complex; the issue of sustainable processes and production are coupled with the need to create a product that is sustaining. Because flavor and fragrance ingredients are often drawn from plants grown in developing nations, social responsibility is often part of sustainability projects. Often nutrition and wellness are part of the discussion as well—it’s a logical jump when flavors go into products that literally help sustain people.