Responsible

Diversity

The finest perfumes and household cleaners require fragrances that smell as good as possible for as long as possible. In addition to being safe for people and the environment, they should be sustainable and increasingly manufactured using green chemistry methods. They should also come from renewable raw materials. Symrise has committed to updating and expanding the fragrance portfolio in precisely this way over the long term. Development of the three fragrances Lilybelle®, Pearadise® and Spicatanate® demonstrates how this can be done.

The world smells good. Thanks in part to Symrise. The company offers around 3,000 fragrances, which manufacturers of perfumes, cosmetics, detergents and cleaners use in thousands upon thousands of products. They range from delicate floral nuances that make perfumes extraordinary to more prominent notes that give bathroom cleaners a kick – from everyday fragrances that can be found in just about any soap to special compositions that Symrise produces exclusively for selected fragrance brands. The portfolio is extensive and continues to grow. For many reasons: Consumers are always looking for new experiences and perfumers are very creative when it comes to developing newfragrances. And the topic of environmental protection becomes of more and more importance. Scent molecules should be biodegradable, as cleaner and shower gel residues find their way into groundwater via waste water. And regulations are very stringent when it comes to our health, as they should be.

Another aspect is sustainability in the use of raw materials. It’s increasingly important to obtain basic materials from natural sources, but not at the expense of food production. The byproducts of food production often offer an alternative. Symrise also uses renewable raw materials. The results speak for themselves: 25 % of materials now come from these sources. The company also utilizes green chemistry to make processes more sustainable. Catalyses, for example, significantly reduce the amount of energy required for production, while solvents are used very rarely or not at all. The process of turning the raw material into a product is also better.

So, Symrise developers who also work intensively with external researchers in innovation projects find themselves in a complicated situation: They need to fulfill the requirements brought to them by legislators, environmental organizations, customers and end consumers. At the same time, products always need to be better and more effective, which is why Symrise employs more than 1,600 people around the world in research and development. The interdisciplinary and global team of developers, application technologists, perfumers, production and regulation experts experiment with several hundred substances each year. One to three of these make it to the market – a pretty good success rate when you consider the many parameters and complicated procedures that lead up to a product release.

Symrise offers

3000

fragrances

Scent molecules should be biodegradable, as cleaner and shower gel residues find their way into groundwater via waste water.

25%

of the materials are sourced from renewable raw materials.

1659

people work in research and development at Symrise sites around the world.

Lilybelle®

One of the most popular fragrances is the lily of the valley. The floral note is used everywhere, from simple household cleaners to high-end perfumes. Over the decades, the industry has developed many synthetic aromatic substances that bring the fresh floral fragrance to life in many applications. Many scent molecules were reputed to have skin sensitizing characteristics and no longer conform with today’s regulatory requirements.

Symrise researchers went in search of alternatives in 2009. Rather than reinventing the wheel, they explored the company’s database, which has been maintained for many decades and contains some 20,000 molecules. Many had made it onto the market, while research on others had been discontinued due to a lack of opportunity for commercialization at that time.

This also applied to one substance that has now been sold under the brand name Lilybelle® since 2017. Symrise researchers first tested the lily of the valley aromatic substance 35 years ago, but didn’t pursue it – partly because the five-stage synthesis process didn’t make much technical sense on a large scale. Several teams have now completed the product, having optimized the entire process in line with the principles of green chemistry: There are no chemical sensitizers and very little solvent or water, while some reagents are used repeatedly in a catalytic amount.

A strategic decision made by the company played into the researchers’ hands. The raw material basis changed with the acquisition of US company Renessenz, which Symrise had already worked with in the past. Based in Florida, the subsidiary has good access to a strategic raw material, which is transformed into an important intermediate substance: D-limonene is a waste product extracted from the peel during orange juice production. The result is Lilybelle®, a biodegradable fragrance that Symrise now sells in perfume compositions.

Pearadise®

What does a pear smell like? Sweet, natural and ... pear-y. The smell of the fruit, which grows just about everywhere in the world, is difficult to describe. And yet everyone’s familiar with it. Many perfumes and household products feature the scent, carefully added in small amounts, giving fragrances that certain something.

A few years ago, Symrise began developing a new aromatic pear substance with exactly this unique character. The molecule needed to be very clean and transparent, with a scent that is delicate and sweet, but not sugary or sticky, so that accents of pear could very selectively be incorporated into fragrance compositions. The new Pearadise® molecule made this possible – and there’s a great research story behind it.

The starting point: Symrise has many aromatic pear substances in its portfolio that tend to have higher prices. So, the task was to develop a molecule to replace these costly products. At the same time, researchers wanted to select a raw material that is as sustainable as possible. It would have to come from a 100 % renewable source, but not compete with food production.

The team of researchers looked at dozens of substances and experimented with a variety of green chemistry processes with the aim of utilizing known waste products generated in the food industry. The goal was to produce the desired aromatic substance by changing the molecule’s carbons. At the same time, they had special computer programs calculate their results in order to predict biodegradability – another criterion for the new fragrance.

The team happened upon itaconic acid, which can be extracted, for example, from byproducts generated in the sugar industry, using it as a basis for the aromatic substance. Following a series of processes, including esterification with ethanol from renewable sources, a product was created: Pearadise® is a fragrance whose name itself is reminiscent of the full, well-rounded scent of a fresh pear.

Spicatanate®

They’re called Miel Essentiel, Cuir Velours, Ambre 84, Noir Prunol and Rouge Groseille. Alone the names of these five DeLaire bases sound like poetry. Symrise has had the predecessors of these perfume raw materials, which serve as a basis for luxury perfumes, in its portfolio for more than 100 years. The perfume bases are made from fragrances that, in their pure form, have scents that are much too strong. That’s why Symrise perfumers mix them with selected essential oils and other substances that highlight the various notes. The company has now launched the DeLaire bases in new compositions, which smell like sweet honey or toffee, supple leather and powdery iris, red berries, rhubarb and elegant spices.

The unique fragrance comes from the fine raw materials used, which makes many other ingredients all the more surprising. In addition to Osmanthus, which is a wonderfully fragrant flower, and essential davana oil, Symrise also uses Spicatanate® in the Rouge Groseille base. And, surprisingly, this captive, an aromatic substance patented by Symrise and sold exclusively by Symrise in perfume oils, doesn’t have a strong floral scent. It’s more reminiscent of garlic or onion, but develops its strength in the combination, giving Rouge Groseille its truly unique fullness, freshness and fruity character.

We focused on several goals as we developed Spicatanate®: The molecule would need to have a high degree of efficiency, allowing perfumers to achieve the same effect as with comparable substances, using less aromatic substance. In this way, Symrise can reduce the volume of fragrances that find their way into the environment. The raw material would also need to come from a natural source.

Researchers identified a structure that achieved the desired fragrance effect: the Mentha spicata mint variety. To ensure sustainable production, Symrise doesn’t use the mint plant, but rather waste materials generated in the orange juice industry. D-limonene is extracted from the peel of the fruit, which in turn is used to produce Spicatanate®. The molecule fulfills the requirements with ease: It accounts for just 0.001 % of the perfume oil, allowing its powerful effect to blossom.