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Accelerating Growth Building The Toilet Economy

Through our malodor control technology developed in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we have entered a new territory, the toilet economy, conceptualized by the Toilet Board Coalition.

Aligned with our 2020 Pathways to Positive target to improve quality of life through nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation, our Malodor Control Project aims to unravel the mysteries of malodor – as olfaction (sense of smell) is one of the least understood of all the senses.


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working to reinvent toilets and improve the lives of 4.5 billion people who lack safely managed sanitation services. Malodor control is fundamental to improving this global crisis by helping the millions of people who are not using toilets today change their habits. As a leader in the science of smell with breakthrough malodor control technologies, we are committed to developing a brand new marketplace for innovation, entrepreneurship and investment that will help drive this change.


After six years of collaboration with the Foundation, Firmenich discovered and designed solutions involving a receptor-based malodor counteractant technology that can address the malodor challenge in the sanitation economy.

With a view to take our malodor control technologies and R&D work into a variety of consumer products, together with our customers and partners, we have focused on developing performing and affordable applications that are able to transform the low-income consumer toilet experience. To mainstream this important work, we have created a One Firmenich Sanitation community with colleagues from all disciplines to make sure that we deliver market products in the shortest possible timeframe. The technology has been incorporated into toilet cleaning products, some of which are now available to low-income consumers in Bangladesh and soon in South Africa.


In line with our 2020 goal to improve quality of life through nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, we have assessed our contribution to SDG 6 and continued our work with academia. In March 2019, we published our third case study with Wharton School’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the University of Pennsylvania. It explains how businesses can catalyze societal innovation, using our breakthrough technology as an example. This collaboration has already enabled us to imagine our role in the future of sanitation, engage with the next generation of leaders, and show how businesses can advance to SDGs.


A key focus of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Toilet Board Coalition is to raise global awareness of the sanitation movement – the challenges, the opportunities and the innovative technological solutions that can address people’s needs and build momentum for this developing market. Supporting this movement, Firmenich led a range of advocacy efforts in the last few years.

To find out more about our advocacy and engagement activities, please consult our Performance and Sustainability Report 2019.

The Toilet Board Coalition
Firmenich is a founding member of the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC), a business-led public-private partnership, launched in 2014, that includes multinational corporations, development expert NGOs/IGOs, sanitation entrepreneurs, and investors. The TBC connects large and small companies and ensures close collaboration between all sectors to accelerate the business of sanitation and achieve universal access to sanitation before 2030.

As a founder and steering committee member of the TBC we are supporting new action and mentoring local entrepreneurs to help them scale-up their operations.

Firmenich’s collaboration with the TBC complements our research on malodor. The TBC helps us identify partners to ensure our new technologies will widely reach base of the pyramid consumers, particularly in India.

Base of the Pyramid Consumer Insight
Consumer insights help us understand people’s needs and olfactive preferences. Building on the Shared Senses methodology we developed with Archipel & Co to study low-income consumer preferences, we are now conducting a new study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This new study focuses on improving our understanding of how odor can drive behavior change in low-income urban areas in Africa, China and India. To find out more about our consumer insight studies, please consult our Performance and Sustainability Report 2019.
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