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Preventing pollution at a molecular level

Sustainability happens in many significant ways at Givaudan, and that also includes at a molecular level. Green Chemistry is helping us to conserve resources in our operations and reduce environmental impacts.

Green chemistry

Green Chemistry is nothing new. The term was coined in the 1980s, and came to prominence in the late 1990s. In recent years, however, Green Chemistry principles have underpinned efforts in the manufacturing industries to be more sustainable.

Minimising impacts, maximising resources

Chris is leading the work in this area for the Fragrance Division. He explains the fundamentals of Green Chemistry, and how its principles are being applied in our ingredient design and manufacturing processes: “In simple terms, Green Chemistry looks at pollution prevention at a molecular level. We can identify ingredients that may be harmful to the environment at an early stage, and thus reduce, or even avoid, such substances. Our voluntary membership of the EPA Sustainable Futures Programme in the USA, where we are now considered graduates of the initiative, is recognition of our efforts. Green Chemistry programmes also allow us to optimise the use of our own resources including energy and raw materials, while minimising waste.”

Furthermore, Green Chemistry approaches help Givaudan to address sourcing concerns. This may be in relation to finding synthetic alternatives, which when studied in detail can have a preferred eco-efficiency footprint, as is the case for menthol. Equally, it may relate to less predictable natural ingredients, where crop yields and product quality vary with climatic conditions, resulting in uncertainty of supply. Thanks to advances in bioscience, Givaudan is now able to take abundant, simple ingredients and produce molecules that can be otherwise difficult to obtain. This presents great opportunities now, and for the future. This helps stabilise the cost and supply of materials built upon Green Chemistry processes, with benefits for Givaudan and our customers.

Achieving greater transparency in 2013

Green Chemistry offers many possibilities then, addressing Givaudan’s own environmental impact while enabling innovations that also drive customer opportunities. Chris details significant activities: “In 2012 we undertook a wide-ranging assessment of Givaudan’s chemistries to establish baseline performance measures for our manufacturing processes. Green Chemistry principles are the framework for these activities. In 2013 we continued our work and have achieved much greater insight on internal issues, such as materials consumption and waste generation at our sites.”

“In terms of investment, 2013 saw the opening of a catalysis laboratory at our facility in Dübendorf, Switzerland. It means we now have the in-house capacity to identify new catalysts to greatly improve our chemistry processes, using less energy, for example. On a commercial level, we are engaging with key customers more closely, discussing their needs and relating them back to our Green Chemistry work.”