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Guest Column

Published on: Nov. 3, 2021, 8:49 p.m.
Cementing the path to sustainability
  • Grey to green: Dalmia Bharat is one of the greenest cement companies in the world

By Mahendra Singhi. The author is Managing Director and CEO. Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Limited

Urgent leadership and purposeful action are becoming a critical need to ensure a culture of sustainability is being fostered within the organisational framework. While business transformation will further India’s vision of becoming an economic powerhouse, moving from a ‘grey to green’ reality will also help the government effectively combat climate change from a holistic perspective. This vision can only be achieved through corporate consciousness towards the environment. 

Leading the way to Net Zero pathway today!

Being associated with climate change and sustainability that highlights business actions and ambitions, I believe that sustainability within the enterprise can become a reality when the ‘Clean and Green is Profitable and Sustainable’ mantra is firmly entrenched within the organisational DNA. By visualising the future and making bold commitments, enterprises will be able to lead the sustainability dialogue and become catalysts towards bringing in environmental change. This, in turn, will help deliver on the expectations of stakeholders and policy makers and lead to responsible growth. 

Devising a business growth strategy that incorporates sustainable and climate-friendly initiatives can also have dual success factors. 

Transforming from grey to green

Increasingly, enterprises – medium or large – need to make Green Growth a business cornerstone; and sustainability, a way of life – to create enhanced and shared value for stakeholders. To combat this looming climate crisis, conscious corporations need to take a stand within the economy to bring about positive change by coming together, forming environmental or climate action alliances, such as the World Economic Forum’s First Movers’ Coalition, and making impactful decisions. In fact, some of the world’s biggest economies globally have already committed more than $12 trillion to restart economies, while trillions more are necessary to build up a net-zero future.

There no longer exists room for complacency in the Grey to Green to Growth Spectrum. There is an urgent call to action for organisations to commit themselves to a more aggressive net zero playbook. As a business leader, advocating change, I have seen firsthand how this helps an organisation stay ahead of the curve through our ‘Green Cement’ initiative that follows environmental and legal requirements in a responsible manner. 

Responsible & energy efficient production

Environmental discipline can be encapsulated in the principle of ‘Producing maximum output with minimum resources.’ For example, in the business that we’re in, that is cement, production is an energy-intensive process and therefore, responsible use of energy is key to reducing environmental impact. We made a conscious decision to decarbonise our operations in a way that made business sense. By doing so, we are now one of the greenest cement companies in the world with one of the highest alternatives (waste) utilisation rates globally in cement sector. 

We’re positively disrupting the cement industry with our practices that include completely replacing fossil fuels in processes and using green fuels which are industrial wastes, renewable biomass and municipal waste. We’re also utilising technological innovation such as exploring the possibility of capturing the CO2 and using it in a purposeful way. For this, we’ve completed the feasibility study of a large-scale carbon capture plant in India and proved that it is technologically and economically viable.

Additionally, through partial replacement of Clinker, we’re using waste from other industries such as steel and thermal power plants and promoting a circular economy. We are now 12.4 times water positive and are committed to be 20 times water positive by 2025. The initiatives we’re adopting don’t just surpass industry standards but lead towards green infrastructure and global environmental sustainability. 

The road ahead is sustainability

The future of a business enterprise is sustainability. A survey by The Stanford Social Innovation review revealed that over 90 per cent CEOs believe a clear sustainability strategy is an important factor for a company’s success. The future of an enterprise is rooted in a sustainable business model and not only creates long-term value for profit but also leads to improved environmental conditions. This will incorporate environmental and climate action initiatives such as investing in technologies that consume less natural resources, utilising energy responsibly and adoption of green building practices. 

The good news is that a majority of Indian organisations are moving environmental concerns high up on their agenda and plan to implement these initiatives. Organisations that are cognizant of environmental impact and are first to adopt eco-positive trends will be able to reap business benefits, albeit long term, and win over stakeholder confidence.

We are confident that if we embark on a common mission to build a sustainable future, our efforts will inspire organisations, yet to comply, to synergize their business transformation goals and sustainability objectives into their overall strategy that ensures positive environmental and social impact.

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