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Voluntary litter collection

City of Aarhus

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Arhus is Denmark’s 2nd largest city and the  financial centre of the Central Denmark Region. The city has a catchment area of 1.2 million people within a one-hour travel range and is well connected to Copenhagen and Hamburg.

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By Hans-Christian Bugge, October 03, 2013

The company Firmenich dedicated a full working day to picking up litter on the streets and in the woods of Aarhus. Both Firmenich and the City of Aarhus are pleased with the results

Despite the Danish division of Firmenich working within the field of aromas for the food industry, the company decided to tackle an area far from making products smell good. Firmenich dedicated a full working day to pickng up litter within the city. Why? The head of Firmenich in Denmark, Jacob Ravn Nielsen explains:

“We have had a tradition throughout the group for many years to spend one full working day doing something for the benefit of the area we work in. In Denmark this year, we decided to focus on keeping the city we are based in clean and tidy. That’s why we went out to pick up litter.”

What made it possible at all for Firmenich to spend valuable working hours on picking up litter, is a decision made by the owners of the business many years ago. And given that the group has 6,000 employees, there are a range of different initiatives.
 
“Because we are a family-owned business, rather than stock exchange listed, our owners have a free hand to make decisions without having to refer to the shareholders. And because we are represented in a quite a few countries, we want to do something which makes a difference locally,” says Nielsen.

The day is not part of the company’s CSR policy as such, but more of an extra day independent of other CSR initiatives. And Nielsen believes that it has a value beyond CSR.

“Firstly, we do something highly specific and identifiable, where we can see we make a difference. Secondly, such a day means that we can get out and do something completely different from our daily work as a team. Being able to do so gives us a benefit which can’t be bought,” he says.

Support from the City of Aarhus
The council’s Project Manager for “Clean City Aarhus”, Pernille Villesen, is delighted with the work of Firmenich. The number of volunteers for “Clean City Aarhus” is already high, but this is the first time that a company has participated. “Clean City Aarhus” helped by defining a route for the company, and supplied the personnel with the tools and equipment they needed.

“I think it’s extremely positive that companies within the city can see the benefit of contributing to the community. In this instance, we’ve gained a lot of extra help for litter collection. At the end of the day, such initiatives boost the feeling of ownership of the local environment, and indicate that here is a company that cares. We will definitely welcome other offers of the same kind in the future!”

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