Firmenich targets ‘carbon-positive’ operations by 2030

Pictured: Firmenich's biotechnology and naturals pilot plant and laboratory in Geneva

Called the ESG Ambitions 2030 guide, the new framework was confirmed by Firmenich’s chief sustainability officer Berangere Magarinos-Ruchat at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum on Thursday (4 February) and formally published later that day. It details new, more ambitious targets for Firmenich on climate change, nature and people.

The climate change portion of the framework is headlined by a commitment to reach carbon-neutral operations by 2025 and achieve “carbon positivity” by 2030. Sometimes called carbon negativity by other companies, the term carbon-positive is used when an organization reduces, sequesters or offsets more carbon than it emits.  

Firmenich is including all Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions from its direct operations in its accounting against these targets. Some 10,000 people are employed across the firm’s operational facilities, which range from offices to factories and R&D facilities.

As for Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, Firmenich is already working towards a science-based target to reduce indirect emissions by one-fifth by 2030.

Firmenich has already reduced its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 45% since 2015, despite output having increased by more than one-fifth over the past five years. As it goes forward, it will prioritise further reductions over sequestering and offsetting emissions. Following a switch to 100% renewable electricity, through the Climate Group’s RE100 initiative, focus areas will be improving efficiency and decarbonising heating, cooling, refrigeration.

Nature and people

“Embracing nature” and “caring for people” are the other two pillars of Firmenich’s new strategy.

On the former, it has a vision to become “water neutral” in all water-stressed areas by the end of the decade. This means replenishing as much water as the business takes. According to the UN, one-third of the world’s biggest groundwater systems are already classed as distressed, and water stress could displace up to 700 million people by 2030 in the worst-case scenario.

Firmenich also has a target to ensure that it recycles or reuses 100% of its plastic waste by 2030 and achieves 99% biodegradable ingredients across the fragrance portfolio.

It is worth noting that Firmenich is present in more than 100 countries. So, to meet these goals, it will have to deal with different policy and infrastructure contexts.

As for the “caring for people” pillar, Firmenich has outlined new measures to support young people and marginalized groups into the workforce. It is aiming for people with disabilities to represent 10% of its workforce, and to create 5,000 job opportunities for young people, by the end of the decade.

Firmenich will also seek certification to ensure that it is paying the living wage globally and that it has eliminated pay gaps relating to race and ethnicity.

“As a leading responsible family company, driving a sustainable and inclusive business model has always been our priority,” said the company’s chairman Patrick Firmenich. “Leveraging our scientific excellence and guided by our timeless values, we are committed to building a better planet for the next generations.”

Sarah George

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