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6 ways manufacturers can be natural capital conscious

Manufacturing sector contributes approximately 17% to the Indian economy. With the growth of population, there has been an increase in the demand of goods being manufactured leading to depletion of limited natural resources. The natural supply chain of raw material is slowly, yet steadily, being strained and many of these units are feeling have to contend with supply-side shocks such as unavailability of raw material, increase in the cost price of inputs, increased cost of transportation, strict emission regulations, etc.

By adopting proactive natural capital management, certain industries in the sector have been able to balance the growing demand for goods and its implications on the environment through greater focus on sustainable practices like energy efficiency, fuel optimization, and renewed focus on storage and distribution; leading to various direct and indirect benefits.

Listed below are few of the best practices from the manufacturing sector that have helped various industries develop and champion greener models of production:

  • Process optimization: Companies have been taking a resource conscious evaluation of their process and are improving processes by involving in house teams to create low-cost interventions. For example a closed loop cooling solution has helped an auto major save 3500kWh/ day and reduce emissions of 796 MT CO2e/ Annum

  • Technology upgradation: With the advent of technology, increased know-how and better access to finance, installations of new technologies is helping reduce impact on natural resources and create new businesses. For example a fuel change technology has helped an auto component supplier save 50% on fuel bills and emissions reduction of up to 80% from their operations

  • Waste recovery/ recycling: Keeping a close watch on the waste has been one of the best ways to conserve resources at the industrial level. Most common practices used by the industry today have been waste heat recovery and water recycling. For example,companies have seen upto 30% reduction in water intensity (water use/unit product) in water intensive sectors like food and beverages by monitoring water usage at each stage and optimizing water use through recovery and recycling

  • Integrating wildlife and nature conservation: Integrating natural capital considerations into business not only reduces man animal conflict but also allows for the development of sustainable sources of products. For example involvement of a wildlife team, creating a response system and enabling wildlife to co-exist has helped plantation companies to reduce human interactions with wildlife leading to reduced casualties

  • Involving community: Community involvement has been a key to achieving success in large conservation projects and in ensuring sustainability of the company. For example leading cement companies have worked closely with the community to create rainwater structures and develop forests on degraded lands to achieve water positive status and create deeper community connect by generating livelihoods in its vicinity

  • Circular Economy Concept: Applying the circular economy principles has enabled companies to create new sources of revenue. For example a leading petrochemical company channelized the carbon dioxide produced from its processes to produce urea and spirulina, selling them to nearby companies for producing compressed carbon. This helped create a new revenue source for the company simultaneously reducing its emissions by 36%.

These practices present a testimony of the excellent results that can be achieved by incorporating natural capital conservation in manufacturing processes. They need to be celebrated, recognized, shared and scaled up across the industry to meet India’s growing demand of products and services as well as save our Natural Capital.

YES BANK has instituted the YES BANK Natural Capital Awards as a platform to mainstream the adoption of natural capital imperatives in business.

The 2017 edition of the awards consists of five categories – Eco-corporate,(Manufacturing/Services), Pixel Perfect and Trailblazer for photography, and two new categories – Eco-Tourism and Nature Leader. Winners will be awarded at a ceremony in New Delhi in September 2017.

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