October 2019 | 2795 words | 10-minute read
The global scale of current environmental issues — whether related to land, air or water bodies — reflects the urgency to protect, care for and responsibly use the scarce natural resources for a productive and sustained relationship with the biosphere.
At the World Environment Day 2019, air pollution was the predominant theme. Worldwide air pollution causes around 7 million premature deaths every year; of which 4 million are in the Asia-Pacific region alone. The issue is grave and the data is pressing enough to promote action.
Within the Tata group, environmental stewardship is a core value, as we continue to be responsible to the communities and environments in which we work. The Tata Sustainability Policy guides group companies in their journey to steward the environment, with efforts spanning diverse actions, including reducing CO2 emissions, adopting renewable energy, minimising industry effluents, recycling organic waste and water and preserving biodiversity in their areas of operation.
Tata group companies such as Tata Chemicals have added a new dimension to sustainability by integrating biodiversity conservation in their business process.
Mithapur in Gujarat, where Tata Chemicals’ salt and soda ash production units are located, is home to diverse marine and terrestrial life. Its beaches welcome marine turtles for nesting and its forests and wetlands provide shelter to wildlife and birds. Much of this biodiversity, however, stands threatened by the rampant spread of the weed gando baval (prosopis juliflora) that stifles the native flora.
In 2004, Tata Chemicals set up a Biodiversity Park to preserve the flora and, in turn, the fauna that depends on it. Spread across 150 acres, the park is home to many endangered species of animals and birds like the star tortoise, Indian pangolin, the barn owl and spotted owlet. It is also abode to jackals, hyenas and Indian blue bull. Eurasian marsh harrier, houbara bustard and leopards are some of the prominent visitors to the park.
The presence of 11 species of raptors — predators at the top of the food chain — is evidence that the park’s biodiversity is thriving.
The company’s efforts in conserving the flora and fauna in this park hasn’t gone unnoticed. The district forest officer at Mithapur has invited the company to train their frontline forest department staff in conservation activities.
A steely resolve
By pioneering breakthrough steelmaking technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, adopting renewable energy and laying the foundation for the use of scrap in steel manufacturing, Tata Steel is steadfast in its contribution to India’s commitment towards the Paris Agreement on climate change signed in 2016.
Steel production results in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste water contaminants and solid wastes that adversely affect the environment. Tata Steel is committed to minimising this impact through its four pillars: emissions control, water management, circular economy and biodiversity. At its manufacturing site in Jamshedpur, the company has invested in installation and upgradation of air pollution control equipment resulting in 68% reduction of dust emission since 2005. The company has used the best technology available to recover waste heat and use by-product gases for power generation; besides initiatives aimed at improving efficiency and reducing its carbon footprint.
Resilience towards scarcity
Steel making is a water intensive process. The Jamshedpur steel plant is located at the confluence of the Subarnarekha and Baitarani rivers in close proximity to the Dimna reservoir. Despite the strategic advantage, Tata Steel has put a long-term plan in place for enhancing water efficiency and creating resilience towards scarcity.
The company has initiated a river basin study to ascertain the watershed level risks. Apart from implementing better water management practices, with rainwater harvesting structures to recharge the groundwater table, a sewage treatment plant was commissioned to recycle sewage water. This will reduce the consumption of fresh water by 18% in the future.
Towards a circular economy
Steel is 100% recyclable. The by-products generated across the value chain of the steelmaking process can be reused in-house and in the construction industry. Tata Steel has achieved 100% slag utilisation across its operations and its products such as Tata Nirman and Aggreto are now used in road construction, fly ash brick and clinker making.
With Tata Steel’s scrap processing unit at Rohtak (Haryana) beginning commercial production in FY20, the processed scrap will be used for downstream steel products. The company is also collaborating with the government to formalise the scrap industry, promote policy advocacy and resource efficiency.
Tata Steel has been commended for its responsible environmental performance by the World Steel Association, which recognised Tata Steel as one of the Steel Sustainability Champions of 2018; the Global Water Intelligence for the ‘Industrial Water Project of the Year 2019’ and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) for achieving the GreenPro certification for Tata Pravesh Doors, Tata Pipes and Tata Structura, which are also the first steel products in India to get this eco-label.
Driving change to new mobility
Tata Motors is leading a major transformation in the automotive industry by facilitating faster adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) to build a sustainable future in mobility. Through its electric vehicles and hybrid engines portfolio, it aims to reduce GHG emissions.
Tata Motors has successfully delivered the first set of Tigor EVs to Energy Efficiency Services Ltd and Tata Starbus hybrid electric buses to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority in FY18. It has initiated the supply of electric buses to Lucknow City Transport Services Ltd and West Bengal Transport Corporation Ltd.
The company is committed to green material initiatives, having invested over Rs 20 billion in R&D in FY18 alone and receiving 80 patents in that year.
Going the green way
As Tata Motors’ plants are vertically integrated, energy use, GHG emission mitigation, water use, effluent recycling, waste disposal and reuse are closely tracked and reviewed. All Tata Motors plants have been assessed on CII’s GreenCo Rating system, with two plants winning platinum ratings in FY19.
A signatory of RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative committed to 100% renewable electricity, Tata Motors aspires to source 100% renewable electricity by 2030. In FY19, the company used 94.2 million units of renewable electricity in its operations; it signed third-party power purchase agreements for sourcing renewable energy from wind and increased its rooftop solar photovoltaic installation capacity. All Tata Motors plants are united in their resolve to lower water consumption in operations.
Value from waste
Through improvements in manufacturing process, waste or scrap conversions and supply chain optimisation, Tata Motors aims to reduce the environmental burden caused by landfill and incineration. The ‘Value from Hazardous Waste’ initiative has resulted in savings of Rs 24 crore with 1,074MT and 73.7L of hazardous waste disposal avoidance in FY19.
To minimise the use of flexible plastic packaging in its operations, the company is working towards returnable packaging and is deploying this approach at suppliers’ sites as well. The company’s employees repurposed wooden pallets into 700 desks for students.
To implement a sustainable supply chain initiative, Tata Motors is sensitising its critical suppliers on environmental, social and governance aspects through guidelines, workshops and onsite sustainability assessments.
Tata Motors is thus working towards an inclusive, sustainable and transformational approach to mobility through its products and processes.
Steering towards sustainability
From manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles to developing cutting-edge technology for reducing its carbon footprint, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), a subsidiary of Tata Motors, is continually looking at ways to be more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint.
All of JLR’s manufacturing sites in the UK have Carbon Neutral certification, and its vehicles are on track to meet the European Union’s vehicle fleet average CO2 emissions target. The company has reduced its overall environmental impact with a 23% reduction in water use per vehicle in manufacturing. There is also a 30% improvement in the lifecycle impact each car has on the environment compared with those made in 2007.
JLR is also closing the loop on its precious materials, recycling and reusing them as part of its circular economy. Project Reality will see aluminium recovered from existing Jaguars and Land Rovers being reformed into new high-grade material for use in next generation vehicles. Even battery packs are being readied to gauge their second life potential.
JLR’s Responsible Business team is determined to reach its target of zero waste. Currently no waste goes directly to the landfill. The team at Solihull (UK) has eliminated 1.1 million m2 of plastic, equivalent to 154 football pitches, from the final assembly areas of the Land Rover plant. Their success has led to employees getting inspired and implementing the same across sites.
JLR is in the process of completing UK’s largest electric car charging facility at Gaydon, while installing 82 public chargers across South Africa’s frequently-travelled, long-distance holiday routes called the Jaguar Powerway. JLR’s sites in the UK and Slovakia purchase 100% renewable electricity. Solar panels are fitted at JLR’s UK engine and manufacturing operations; its plant in China generates more than 11MWh of renewable electricity.
JLR’s aim to do more with less has enabled its employees to be more agile, as the company sets environmental targets for 2030. It is also taking and promoting actions to steward the environment in five areas: embracing the circular economy, advancing environmental innovation, creating value beyond boundaries, improving education and developing technology for good.
Each imperative will play a pivotal role in getting JLR into overdrive mode and making it reach its destination of a responsible future that it has envisioned.
Doing more with less
The environment policy of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) focuses on integrating environmental considerations into business processes, going beyond compliance and adopting a lifecycle approach across its value chain.
One of the pioneers in the IT sector to be certified as ISO 14001 compliant for its Environment Management System (EMS) as early as 2003, TCS has successfully migrated to ISO 14001:2015 this year under the enterprise-wide certification, covering 120 locations globally.
Conserving energy & managing carbon
With focus on energy reduction and carbon mitigation, TCS has reduced its specific carbon footprint by ~56% over the baseline year FY08. Its combined GHG emission was 1.31t CO2 e/FTE (full-time equivalent), which was achieved by adding more green buildings to its real estate portfolio, placing roof top solar panels across offices, optimising IT system power usage, and improving operational efficiency through machine learning based cognitive algorithms on its IoT platform.
Over 50% of the total office space currently occupied by TCS is certified as green buildings. TCS’ corporate head office, TCS House in Mumbai, was awarded the highest Platinum rating by the Indian Green Building Council under the Existing Building category. TCS became the first IT services company in India to achieve the ISO 50001:2011 Energy Management System certification for its campus at Pune, Sahyadri Park.
TCS’ Remote Energy Management programme connects 135+ sites from India and other geographies to monitor energy usage on a real time basis, leveraging technology and identifying opportunities for improvement. The IoT platform has been enhanced to acquire indoor air quality data on CO2 levels, temperature and relative humidity.
Renewable energy use in TCS offices stands at 10.1%. This year the company added 1.7MW of solar rooftop systems across four locations. The open car park at TCS Deccan Park, Hyderabad, is covered with a canopy of solar photovoltaics.
TCS has continuously innovated and improved its energy efficiency through initiatives like data centre/server room consolidation, rack cooling solutions, airflow management, UPS load optimisation through modular UPS solutions and centralised monitoring. These efforts have improved power utilisation efficiency across 23 data centres to 1.67, against the industry average of 1.8.
TCS’ new campuses are built for 50% higher water efficiency, 100% treatment and recycling of sewage and rainwater harvesting. In FY18, consistent water management measures helped the company to reduce its water consumption by 19% compared with FY08, the baseline year.
Rooftop collection systems, storage tanks, and recharge trenches and pits have helped in 22% of rainwater percolating back to the land surface. TCS continues its efforts towards community watershed management and surface water body rejuvenation projects by scaling up its work at Siruseri (Chennai) Tamil Nadu, Kasalganga (Solapur) and Malguzari ponds (Vidarbha) in Maharashtra.
Reducing & reusing waste
TCS’ waste management practices seek to maximise segregation at source, as well as reuse and recycle waste wherever possible. In FY19, over 42% of the total food waste generated was treated using onsite composting methods or bio-digester treatment.
Through its responsible sourcing programme, TCS motivates its suppliers to adhere to 100% regulatory compliance and to strive for better sustainability performance. TCS’ Supplier Code of Conduct is included as a part of the contract with all vendors.
By aligning its Environmental Sustainability strategy to mitigate climate change risks and focusing on the responsible use of scarce resources, TCS is accomplishing more with less.
Promoting responsible tourism
The Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has steered environmental stewardship by efficiently managing its assets and resources. The company integrates environment considerations into all its business decisions, processes and products and services lifecycle. Its sustainability imperative is driven by its sustainability champions, constituting the Green Teams.
Every IHCL hotel, based on the size and location, has specific annual targets (with the baseline average figure for the past 3 years as the benchmark), ranging between 2% and 7% for reducing carbon, energy and water intensity. Maximising the use of renewable energy in its total energy mix is a company-wide priority. In the past 3 years, IHCL has increased its renewable energy quotient from 7% to 23%.
Championing the cause
IHCL has an audit and certification partnership with Earth Check, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism. The monitoring system comprises monthly tracking of environmental performance data, annual reviews, onsite audits, and certification of hotels that fulfil all Earth Check requirements.
Of the 80 hotels that participated in the Earth Check programme in FY18-19, 8 received platinum certification, 60 gold certification, 8 silver certification and 3 received bronze certification, making IHCL a worldwide leader in responsible tourism.
Forbidding plastic use
IHCL promotes maximum possible recycling and is creating awareness against plastic use in its hotels through guest engagements and community sessions.
IHCL replaced 2 million single plastic straws across all its properties with paper and bamboo straws, and plastic bottles were replaced with glass bottles in Taj Samudra Colombo, Taj Exotica Maldives and Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Andamans.
Promoting green tourism
The Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, set amidst 46 acres of verdant forests and mangroves on the Havelock island in the Andamans, is a shining example of sustainable luxury. Committed to making the island plastic free, the hotel has banned single-use plastics and has partnered with the Pollution Control Board to keep the island plastic free.
A biogas facility, a water bottling plant, a reservoir for rainwater harvesting and solar panels for partially harnessing solar energy are the dedicated sustainability commitments of the hotel, which did not fell a single tree to construct its luxury villas. The resort also offers a host of fun and environment activities for its guests, engaging them in the marine and terrestrial ecology of the island.
IHCL continues to integrate environmental consciousness in its supply chain. All IHCL suppliers adhere to the Tata Code of Conduct, which requires them to prohibit child labour, ensure the rights of workers and integrate principles of environmental sustainability into their businesses.
IHCL has revamped its sourcing and distribution model to a unified warehousing and distribution management system. This initiative has helped the company improve its supply chain efficiency and lower its carbon footprint, reduce stock inventories and optimise logistics. Most products are sourced locally from small and medium scale businesses. The procurement teams make efforts to actively source from small scale enterprises, farmers’ groups and less privileged women, artisans, the differently abled and disadvantaged vendors.
IHCL has spent years perfecting its craft, decades earning a reputation and centuries building a culture which it calls ‘Tajness’. Its commitment towards eco-conscious and responsible hospitality is another step towards elevating Tajness.
Waste to Gold
Taj MG Road Bengaluru in collaboration with the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Rural Energy and Development crafted a circular economy project called ‘Waste to Gold’. Through the transesterification process, waste cooking oil is converted to biodiesel and the by-product glycerin, used in making soaps, is distributed free of cost to the nearby community.
—Farah Dada & Munira Patel