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A Globally Oriented Sustainability Strategy to Optimize Technology and Deliver Results

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

Our initiative is also on reducing water usage. We have taken several projects on water reduction and currently are the industry leader in this area globally with the lowest water density compared to our competitors; we consume almost 15-20% of the water which is consumed in the other conventional viscose production. Also, we are increasing our bioenergy content and using hybrid energy in our plants. With innovative technologies we are aiming to combat our energy consumption.” - Mukul Agrawal, Chief Sustainability Officer, Birla Cellulose, Aditya Birla Group

In the Sustainable Circular Economy Series – Doing Well by Doing Good conducted by ProMFG in collaboration with BiofuelCircle, Mukul Agrawal, shared his insights and best practices that have been implemented within the company to create an ecosystem of Sustainability and Circular Economy.

What does it mean to be a global business from a sustainability point of view?

We have twelve locations globally. Four in India, and eight are outside India in North America, Canada, Sweden, China, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Being a global company means we are appealing to a global audience. Whenever we talk about sustainability, most of the Western brands that we work with, like Adidas, Nike, Marks & Spencer, H&M, we also deal with global customers, so, our sustainability strategy is also oriented globally.

To serve the global customers, is it important to maintain homogeneity of technology? Say, the technology used for the pulp and fibre business in India, is it similar to that of Canada or Sweden?

So, even though most of our plants are located in Asia, we had taken the initiative that we will be applying the best level technologies globally in all our plants. So, we adopted the European Standards of Emission and Effluents across all our units. We thought that one of the ways to show our global leadership would be to have global norms in all our sites, so, that two years back we put a $175 million investment to upgrade our technologies, especially in the Asian plants, so that we can meet the global norms of emission.

More than half of our plants are now already compliant with European norms. That also makes us ready for the future because in case India, Thailand, Indonesia, or China decide to follow more stringent norms, we are already prepared.

This was about the use of technology to limit GHG emissions in manufacturing plants; are there any other initiatives that you have taken up to reduce your carbon footprint?

We wanted to reduce our water intensity. So we took several projects on water reduction. And right now we are the industry leader in this area globally, with the lowest water density compared to our competitors, and we consume almost 15%-20% less of the water which is consumed in the other conventional viscose production.

We have also taken major initiatives, a five-pillar strategy that looks at our complete value chain. But we are also looking at all suppliers and downstream value chain, which is our customer. So, we want to incorporate sustainability practices everywhere in this value chain.

We know that Aditya Birla Group is ranked #1 in Sustainable Forestry Management. How does this weave into the Birla Cellulose sustainability model?