Sustainability at Ricola – from cough drop production to transportation

The beloved Swiss herbal cough drops are soothing for the throat and voice. A family business based in Laufen in Basel, Ricola has become a global brand and now sells its specialist herbal products in 45 countries. But Ricola is not driven solely by financial success. The company also takes its responsibility towards the environment and society seriously, and this is reflected in its actions. During its long-standing partnership with myclimate, Ricola has already taken plenty of positive sustainability action.

Sustainability has been a core value for Ricola throughout its 90-year history. For example, the manufacturer of herbal products grows herbs in line with Bio Suisse standards and keeps transportation to a minimum by working with local suppliers. The front of the company’s head office building in Laufen is made of clay and earth, which saves energy through heat regulation. The solar panels on the roof of the same building also cover around half of the electrical energy demand. Ricola has been working closely with myclimate to strengthen its sustainability strategy for many years now. myclimate helps Ricola to understand its emissions and suggests improvements relating to transportation, product design and apprentice training. 


From cough drop production to transportation 

Back in 2015, myclimate ran the first full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on a Ricola product. The environmental impact of a box of lemon balm cough drops was systematically traced, from extraction of the raw materials to disposal of the packaging. One finding from the LCA revealed that sugar substitutes like isomalt – and sugar itself – are associated with relatively high carbon emissions. Ricola is constantly striving to save resources through its choice and procurement of raw materials. 

The company has also calculated its Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF), which includes all its relevant greenhouse gas emissions. This revealed that Ricola, as a globally-operating company, can make the biggest impact by addressing transportation. In response to this finding Ricola has started relying on biodiesel for transport by sea. As a follow-up step, the company also performed a number of tests with a view to optimising lorry capacity and shortening journeys in general. This has resulted in a significant drop in related emissions. 

Ricola has set itself the goal of achieving Benefit Corporation (B Corp) certification by the end of 2023. This certification will verify that the company has proven that it meets the highest of standards when it comes to social and environmental sustainability, corporate responsibility and transparency. 

Ricola supports the next generation  

As a future-focused employer, it comes naturally to Ricola to think and act sustainably. But the company doesn’t believe in focusing all its attention on reducing the biggest sources of carbon emissions. It’s keen to optimise day-to-day operations in terms of emissions too. Input and ideas often come straight from the departments, which just goes to show how strong the focus on sustainability is at Ricola.  

Keen to involve as many employees as possible, the company ran the myclimate Company Challenge for the first time in 2022. The myclimate Company Challenge gives companies the chance to include their apprentices in their corporate climate action and pick up ideas and solutions from the next generation along the way. An internal competition was held to encourage apprentices to plan specific sustainability projects – and ideally put them into action too. A total of 13 motivated apprentices entered the Ricola Company Challenge and worked on creative projects addressing different areas – from sustainable packaging solutions to effective measures to reduce food waste and use renewable energy. The panel of judges was most impressed by the winning team’s project, which focused on minimising waste during cough drop production.  



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