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Big businesses are trying to make more with less

Measures: Industries are waking up to the reality of strain in resources; adopting sustainable business models, reports Neyaz Farooquee.

business Updated: Apr 27, 2013 23:16 IST
Neyaz Farooquee
Neyaz Farooquee
Hindustan Times

Earlier this month, the PM released an expert report that calls for a fresh look at national accounting with the purpose of ‘greening’ it — adopting a sustainable model of development taking into account our natural and human resources.

While the state is responding to this situation — India has committed to reduce its carbon footprint by 20-25% under the UN millennium development goals — big business is also innovating and adopting sustainable business models. “The idea is to do more with less,” says Damandeep Singh, director, Carbon Disclosure Project India.

When Thailand faced severe flooding in 2011, auto giant Honda’s operations in the country were affected for six months, incurring huge losses. It forced the company to rethink its strategy with suppliers to check such mishaps in the future. Similarly, Intel lost around $1 billion in the floods. According to a report by the Centre for Climate and Energy solutions, it caused a combined insurance claim of $15 billion to $20 billion that also included multinationals like Dell, HP and Daimler. Climate change, considered an ill effect of unsustainable living and business practices, in turn has a worldwide effect on industries like garments, automobiles, computers and even casinos.

While, debates on the effect of global warming on climate change continue, such unexpected incidents have forced companies the world over, including in India to look for long term solutions.

“The landscape is changing,” says Harsha Yadav, co-founder, Efficient Carbon, a Hyderabad-based consultancy on sustainable energy solutions, pointing out that three years back, when his company started analysing sustainability initiatives taken by industry, very few companies were forthcoming. But, “now most companies are talking about sustainability, though much is yet to be done.”

For the first time, says a survey by consulting firm Ernst & Young, companies are taking climate change into consideration for the future. According to the survey, 75% of respondents have set a goal for greenhouse gas reduction. Three-fourths of them publicly report greenhouse gas emissions and another 16% plan to do so in the next five years.

Singh says that though a few companies in the country are taking sustainability measures on par with international companies, a lot more needs to be done. "The government has to set an example by making its own ventures sustainable. It needs to act quicker and incentivise those who comply with sustainability measures and penalise those who don’t," Singh suggests.

Corporate initiatives in India
A water-less garment
According to a survey conducted by consulting firm, Ernst and Young, nearly 80% of the respondents see water-related issues affecting their business in the next five years. As a response, Levi’s, a garment producer, has come up with its Water-less jeans that significantly reduces the consumption of water, in some cases by up to 96%. — Himani Chandna

Reduces water footprint
In a country like India where 100 million people face water shortage, reducing wastage of water in washing clothes is a noble idea. A cloth needs 3 to 4 buckets generally to rinse it properly. Magic Water Saver, a product by FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever brings down the consumption of water while washing clothes. — Rachit Vats

Sustainable connection
With an estimated 900 million mobile users in India, the cell phone towers are ubiquitous. To maintain uninterrupted phone signal in electricity starved country, diesel comes to help to run the tower. Bharti Airtel has initiated installing solar powered telecom towers to make their operation sustainable and thus reducing carbon footprint. — Manoj Gairola

Taking back e-waste
A large amount of electronic waste is generated in the country as more households and business are dependent on electronic instruments than ever for their survival. Indian IT giant Wipro, which is one of the top companies from India on Carbon Disclosure list, collects back to recycle the electronic waste. It disposed off more than 260 tonne of e-waste in the year 2010-11 by taking it back from users. — Vivek Sinha

Saving lifelines
As the major content of beverages being water, its conservation and proper utilisation is all-important for the beverage company, Pepsico. One of the company’s initiative reduces water usage in paddy transplantation — by using direct seeding technology that reduces water consumption drastically. The company has also started a bio-methanation plant that saves up almost 260 tonnes of LPG in a year. — Rachit Vats

A carbon-based index
The Bombay Stock Exchange has introduced Carbonex (an index of 100 companies), the first-of-its-kind index in India or any emerging market which tracks the performance of companies in terms of their commitment to reduce emission of green house gases. By looking at Carbonex, investors can get the sense of how companies are faring on their commitment to reduce emission of green house gases. — Sachin Kumar

First Published: Apr 27, 2013 22:28 IST