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Sustainable Scents

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: September 6, 2007

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“We are more craftsmen than [industrialists],” Toulemonde says. “We are dedicated to do the best with the best material in small quantity,” whether dealing with classic or novel materials.

On this day, LMR is processing patchouli extracts, which the company is refining to achieve scent profiles desired by IFF perfumers. In this workshop, LMR employs rectification, thermal distillation and molecular distillation—slicing materials into distinct pieces and then, in Toulemonde’s words, “reassociating” them minus the undesirable segments. These undesirable components include color and allergens, even unwanted fragrance components. Here, individual perfumers can request and receive special variations of materials for new formulations. But how is LMR’s approach different from any other fragrance company?

Toulemonde explains, “What is unique to this company is the fact that we are able to use specific techniques that enable us to deliver unique products.” Focusing on every step of the process, including the sourcing of high-quality raw materials, is what Toulemonde believes distinguishes IFF naturals. “Very often you achieve a superior quality not by a unique technique, unique technology or unique people—you just need to have the best technology, the best people and the right commitment.”

From Field to Fragrance
IFF’s naturals facility is often approached by perfumers who may like an essence but would prefer it without one or two notes. The company also employs new solvents and equipment in the expansion of perfumers’ palettes. In addition, there are teams in the fields and jungles of the world—Vietnam, Laos, Africa, Europe—seeking out new crop material. These novel botanicals are taken to the lab, extracted and sent to a perfumer for evaluation. If the perfumer is sufficiently happy, then the viability of cultivation is assessed. Here, Toulemonde stresses environmental responsibility. “It has to be sustainable,” he says. If the process sounds daunting, that’s because it is. “We have about 200 [botanical] candidates per year,” he says.

But is there anything really new out there to find? Toulemonde answers this way: new tones of paint are released each year, though no one would ever argue that they are actually new colors that break out of the red-yellow-blue-white-black mold. But indeed, there are new notes to be had. For example, basil verbena from Vietnam.