In pursuit of Smart and Sustainable Logistics Infrastructure

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In pursuit of Smart and Sustainable Logistics Infrastructure

In today’s fast shaping up global developments, self-reliance, sustainable infrastructure, and community support have become the critical pillars for India’s long-term prosperity and resilience. As per a recent IBEF report, self-sufficiency and deliberate investments in sustainable infrastructure will set the groundwork for a thriving and sustainable future. The good news is that globally we are witnessing a greater emphasis on sustainable investment, which considers Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. A more sustainable world needs the industrial world to build more sustainable operations. As a result, it is prudent that future infrastructure development prioritizes Sustainable, Equitable, and Green Growth. Back home, the Central Government and industry stakeholders have been toiling hard to not only imbibe sustainable practices in their operations but are also devising ways to make sustainability a habit for every citizen. Our Cover Story this time explores ways to build sustainable practices that will ultimately help in conserving energy, reducing waste, optimizing the physical assets such as buildings & vehicles and highlights the efforts required to harness the potential of sustainability to garner economic value.

A recent Knight Frank report highlighted that the trends in supply chain management of using sustainable practices is gaining traction and is arguably the single most important theme that dominates dialogues across business lines and geographies. Even investment flows are now heavily influenced by how sustainable practices are being applied by potential prospects. This all-pervasive theme has begun influencing the logistics infrastructure market with occupiers looking to reduce their carbon footprint and incorporate industry leading practices in the domain. With occupiers increasingly looking to outsource their logistics requirements and with end consumers demanding accountability, 3PLs and e-commerce players have begun to focus on this important aspect. Progress towards a greener warehouse can be measured in a tangible way by seeking building certifications that evaluate performance across metrics related to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria.

Our power-packed panel discussion on the sidelines of our annual awards ceremony harped on this very critical aspect. Let’s take a look at the thought-provoking insights of industry experts where they offer us a way ahead to achieve sustainable expanse…

What is Sustainable Smart Infrastructure? Also describe the top 4-5 Key drivers of these.

Dr. Mala Singh

Dr. Mala Singh, Founder & MD, PEC Greening India: I believe Sustainable infrastructure is the amalgamation of architecture, engineering and ecology to create a symbiotic relationship of nature with human development. A smart & sustainable infra should be people and planet centric. It substantially optimizes utilization of scarce resources, reducing overall carbon emissions and sequestering carbon back into the earth. According to me, the key drivers for sustainable and smart infra are Green Buildings, Renewable Energy sources, Sustainable water and waste management and smart transportation models in supply chain management. Green Buildings are energy and water efficient buildings which reduce waste. They encourage the use of sustainability from design stage till the final end use stage. They minimize the adverse impact to biodiversity by preserving the local flora and fauna within the building site. They also reduce the demand for virgin raw materials by using more recycled and local materials in building construction. 

Since, most countries have committed to phase out the fossils fuel based energy sources, the demand for renewable energy sources has increase and will power the sustainable smart infra. The renewable energy systems must be integrated with the infrastructure. One of the best examples are the roof top solar plants. If we talk about water, then most of the Indian cities are vulnerable to water crises. Thus, sustainable water techniques like rain water harvesting, waste water recycling and reuse will drive the overall water smart infra. 

Waste management is again a major problem. The organic waste must be returned to the farmlands to close the nutrients loops. The inorganic waste should be segregated separately into hazardous and non-hazardous waste and must be treated by 3R principals. The smart and integrated mobility systems must reduce the dependence on privately owned vehicles and use more public transport. They must use clean fuels and build infra to sustain the growth.

Ravikant Parvataneni 

Ravikant Parvataneni – CEO India, Argon & Co.: Some of the key drivers are –

  • Use of A-grade warehousing: Initial cost could be high, but the life cycle cost is lower owing to higher life
  • Use of non-polluting MHEs: Battery powered vs diesel engine powered
  • Gold platinum ratings: Inculcate environment friendly best practices from the start

Vijay Ganesh, MD – Industrial & Logistics Services, Colliers India: Sustainability is a trending topic today where every organization is trying to adopt sustainable practices like reducing carbon footprint, reducing wastage, or conserving energy. Every organization needs to take a holistic approach towards it. Smart infrastructure plays a pivotal role in terms of tech-driven approach where we use data analytics and smart technologies to ensure the optimum utilization of assets and operations. Management commitment to sustainable goals, government’s thrust on imbibing green initiatives, increased consumer awareness towards sustainability, competitive advantage and brand value of the company are some of the driving factors behind the sustainability drive. Some of the notable trends include:

Vijay Ganesh
  • Smart technology and resource efficiency – Sensors, IoT devices and data analytics platforms to monitor and optimise energy consumption, Water usage, Waste management etc.
  • Renewable energy
  • Rooftop solar panel installation
  • Solar powered Street Lights
  • Circular economy- Reuse, Recycle and recovery of materials
  • Standards and Certifications such as IGBD, LEED, BREEAM

India is a mix bag of rural & urban cities. What are the major challenges we will face while developing a sustainable, Smart Infrastructure, especially in the rural markets?

Dr. Mala Singh: On the contrary, I think it is much easier to implement smart and sustainable solutions in the rural areas as compared to urban areas. In many ways, our villages are already following sustainable practices. We have many examples of smart and sustainable villages across the country. But we hardly find a completely sustainable city in India. I think a little technological assistance and funding can make many of our villages smart and sustainable. Smart Infra will have multifold benefits for villages. As the rural areas transitions to smart infra, I believe that the socio-economic impact would be really good. People would have access to affordable and renewable energy, clean and sufficient water, clean cooking fuel, access to affordable internet. This will improve the overall lives of the people in the rural villages. This also has a huge potential to stop the rural urban migration which will ultimately reduce additional burden on the cities.

Arif Siddiqui

Arif Siddiqui, Founder & Director, Coign Consulting: For a very long time, this question of rural has been in the backyard, especially on the face of technology, smart development, etc. However, if we see the growth of the Indian economy today, it is predominantly propelled from the rural regions. A lot of credit goes to internet penetration, which has gone up by over 50% of the country’s population. Let me reflect some of the challenges that we will still continue to face… first & foremost challenge that we need to deal with is bandwidth connectivity. The good news is that there has been continuous thrust being placed by the government and the private players to streamline the same. Another important concern that we must deal with on an urgent basis is the expectation differentiation between urban and rural customers. Rural customers are being governed by huge cultural value systems in the country whereas urban area has actually evolved in terms of adopting both westernization and the Indian culture. These two cultural differences provoke a different customer behavior. We will have to look at the rural India from a completely different periscope to understand their behavior and the type of challenges those behavioral changes are going to face. Another important aspect is thrust on education and skill development.

Looking at creating infrastructure in the rural part of the country is going to be driven by three aspects – Affordability, Skill and the ability to maintain technology. It will be easy to invest in technology in supply chain management, equipment, all types of fit outs, but it will be difficult to proactively maintain these technologies and keep the uptime high. They need to be able to have resources that are going to be used to operate these smart warehouses or rather technology aided warehouses. Maintaining business will be another big challenge. Therefore, the definition of smart will be completely different.

We need to relook at – is being smart always about hi-end technologies, hi-end equipment, and hi-end infrastructure? I think smartness is about defining what that specific infrastructure is serving. It’s not going to be one-size-fits-all solution. We will need to have warehouses catering to the needs of different customers.

Infrastructure consultants need to study the specific demands of customers, the hierarchy of the warehouse in their overall supply chain management, the segment they are catering to, etc. Post this analysis, they will need to develop the smart elements, which will be economical, which will make the supply chain resilient, and will also ensure that the personnel have the right skills to operate such warehouses.

Sanjay Desai

Sanjay Desai, Co-founder & Regional Director, Humana International (S) Pte Ltd.: Yes, India is indeed unique in its mixed flavour of rural and urban cities and their differentiated infrastructure. Added to that complexity is India’s government set-up of Centre & State structures duplicating most of the efforts and costs. Here are some major challenges our MSMEs and Startup entrepreneurs in the rural regions will face while developing a sustainable smart infrastructure.

  • Education & awareness: Rural India needs to leapfrog in education & training programs like digital literacy, use of tech gadgets in everyday life. Without these or due to low adoption rate, it will be very difficult to bring the awareness of the value of smart infrastructure in a sustainable manner across rural markets.
  • Lack of energy: Easy and reliable availability of energy resources is extremely critical to the development of smart infrastructure. It is a huge task to get power consistently across rural areas unless we built these energy resources first.
  • Unique nature of rural needs: It cannot be simply assumed that our prevailing smart solutions in urban markets will work seamlessly in rural markets. It will call for some customization to address specific challenges of rural communities.
  • Rural Skill set, maintenance & support: Typically, rural areas may lack certain modern skills to effectively maintain and support the smart infrastructure. In any technology dependent set-up, maintaining the infrastructure efficiently over a longer period is crucial from safety & security standpoint.
  • Cultural ethos and values: Relative to urban cities, communities in rural cities are much more closely associated with cultural ethos & values in their daily lives. Advancement in infrastructure and breaking some social beliefs is sensitive. Government and administrations need to be sensitive & respectful when they go about making the change.

How easy or difficult it is for SMEs/startups to embrace sustainable and smart asset management practices?

Dr. Mala Singh: I feel that the majority of our MSME sector is still widely using outdated technologies and processes, resulting in higher energy intensity. The MSME sector consumes about 25% of the total energy consumed by the industrial sector in India, and out of the total energy consumed, 15% is electricity consumption and 85% is thermal energy consumption. Smart Technology upgradation in the manufacturing process requires huge capital costs which may not be feasible for many SMEs and startups. Although, the Government of India has various schemes to lend money for technology and process upgradation of MSMEs, lack of awareness of existing financial mechanisms makes stakeholders sceptical to invest in low carbon technologies.

One such government initiative is National Programme on Energy Efficiency and Technology Upgradation in SMEs undertaken by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). This program aims to strengthen the MSMEs by knowledge sharing, capacity building, and demonstrations of efficient technologies and adopt energy efficiency measures and technologies to conserve energy in MSME sectors. Large companies and global organizations from different sectors can play a key role in financing as well as in providing technical assistance to small scale enterprises and startups. These funds must be mobilized to intensify the R&D for smart and green transition technologies. I think this will enhance the smart and sustainable asset management in SMEs and startups.

Ravikant Parvataneni: I believe that it’s easy to imbibe sustainability principles for SMEs/ startups rather than the large corporations. For big companies, the infrastructure has already been existing for years or decades and it takes whole lot of efforts for them to go back to the drawing board and start discussing where all they can bring in eco-efficient measures. While this is just one part of the puzzle, actually implementing the same would also take significant time. I am not considering the cost factor here.

While for startups, they are just about building everything from scratch, so it’s practically easy for them to adhere to green norms right from the start. For bigger companies obviously, it becomes the CSR and ESG mandate and they have been taking efforts to imbibe green principles. One needs to be smart enough to gauge the impact and the criticality of the process and then adopt sustainable measures, be it big or small companies. It can be incremental change as well.

Sanjay Desai: India holds 4th position in global rankings for number of MSMEs and their contribution to the Indian economy. India has roughly 62,000 registered startups and another 50,000 non-registered family-owned startups, which in total contribute 4% to India’s GDP. It has had an annual growth of 12-15% since the past three years and this is growing further. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) made ESG disclosures mandatory for the top 1,000 listed companies under its Business Responsibility & Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) initiative. While this is a great step forward, it puts a lot of stress on the top 1000 companies to be compliant. Let us look at some of the challenges that our SME/startup entrepreneurs will face in their endeavor to embrace sustainability and asset management consistently. We will also look at some of the mitigating factors that they can resort to as required-

Let’s talk about the challenges first.

  • Resource crunch (men & materials): SMEs and startups often have limited materials and human resources availability, making it challenging to invest in sustainability initiatives and smart asset management efficiencies.
  • Knowledge and cost of maintaining compliance: We all know that cost of implementing and then maintaining asset management / ESG compliance can be high. Most SMEs and startups may not be able to afford these costs without a larger effort from their banks.
  • Resilience to change / lack of awareness: Resistance from smaller businesses will affect India’s adoption in ESG compliance as well as new technologies. Global MNC or local giants will adopt ESG / Asset management over a period of time and be part of standard ecosystem. The resistance from MSMEs & startups is the result of lack of knowledge / low confidence in understanding ESG & its benefits.
  • Challenge to scale up: MSMEs and startups who aim to move up the ladder for rapid growth may find it challenging to scale ESG and asset management practices in the same vein as their larger domestic partners. This is the phase where they would need help from Industry associations / respective state bodies.

Here are some of the mitigating factors…

  • Take the first step, start small: These enterprises need to dare and take the first step to understand the path forward. Start making incremental progress one step at a time and keep the goal post moving ahead.
  • Partner/collaborate within industry: Seek partnership or counselling with industry associates, government bodies to see guidance, help and resources at a certain level.
  • Train and leverage your employees: MSMEs and young entrepreneurs need to train their employees how to deal with ambiguity, complexity and advanced technology so that slowly they can learn and leverage their learnings eventually.
  • Track your progress to seek financial assistance: Monitor and measure the impact of your initiatives and actions and how successful they are at implementation phase. Approach your anchor tenant or banks for financial assistance.
  • Educate / upskill your employees: Train your team on the importance of ESG and asset management to involve them upfront in the process. This way you can keep your employees fully updated with new technologies and innovation in the marketplace.

Are there certain standards (or features) that companies can leverage while planning and designing a smart and agile distribution centre?

Arif Siddiqui: I completely agree that the government is really working hard in setting up policies. Owing to my intervention with the government, at different stages or at the current stage where I am a part of authoring a part of the National Logistics Policy and the handbook on the Warehouse Standardization, I have three things to say. We need to understand the context of the industry we are talking about.

Currently the warehousing industry is not more than 7-8% is organized, which we call A-Grade Warehouse or best in breed infrastructure. Around 90% of the existing warehouses today were built more than two decades ago. Secondly, they are standalone facilities and were developed by farmers or conventional entrepreneurs and builders for whom every square foot of space matters because their entire business model runs on ground coverage. I have stated this to IGBC that we need to have a very special case and a policy or a methodology to grading or rating these warehouses. Rather than looking at platinum rating, we need to have basic entry level rating.

Standards and features are so critical and important in operating a warehouse today. There is a study done by Gartner that in India not more than 9-10% of warehouses deploy a WMS. The very first important aspect is that we should first start walking the talk. WMS is such a primary requirement in any warehouse, be it a small or a large one. If we deploy WMS, then warehousing operators will be able to start analyzing data, which will help them in analyzing performance and would be in a better position to understand the gaps and work towards them.

Energy efficiency is one thing that we feel that by putting LEDs, we have achieved our carbon emission targets, but that’s just not true. It’s a small part of the change. We need to control the use of power, be it MHEs or any other operational area. Green is not only about the way you build your infrastructure; it is also about reducing the efforts of human beings. Sustainability is about reducing the efforts of warehousing operators so that they are able to do more with less efforts. Effort reduction is also part of sustainability.

Sanjay Desai: Smart Distribution Centres (SDCs) have their own standards (i.e. Class A, B), which organisations can leverage depending on the nature of their business and customer service criteria. These standards and features offer a certain efficiency and require process cadence and compliance standards which organisations need to adhere to. Here are some key standards and features which are available-

  • Energy / utility efficiency: Class A/ B SDCs offer high utility or energy savings due to energy efficient lighting, a solar lighting footprint at lower cost and a structured warehouse layout, which allows a lot of natural light to come thru during daytime.
  • Utilization of Warehouse space: These SDCs are able to configure warehouse layout depending on the finished products to be stored. They offer solutions like narrow-aisle or mezzanines floors, slotted angles to maximize warehouse space.
  • Warehouse management system: WMS is an integral part of inventory management operations (storage / retrieval and distribution operations). Organizations integrate the WMS with front-end (CRM) customer relationship management system to offer an end-to-end visibility to customers.
  • Technology integration: SDCs operate with high level advanced technology like RFID, pick-pack RPA efficiencies to improve inventory handling / storage and distribution operations. For high volume small product footprint, we can set up an automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) to reduce downtime, provides reduced product handling and lesser damages.
  • Safety and sustainable standards: SDCs are built in such a way that they comply with most safety standards (OSHA, REACH), which help organizations to protect their employees and assets. These SDCs incorporate sustainable design features like (LED lighting, Fire Security system, energy insultations).

What are the common obstacles that industries will face & what are the opportunities of a circular economy?

Dr. Mala Singh: I think this has been evolved from our great land itself. We can’t ignore that fact. Our ancestors have been following these sustainable practices since eons. When it comes to corporates imbibing the circular agenda, though at first sight, it looks like a challenge, it’s a great opportunity for them. They can start with waste minimization exercise.

They must think of making the entire loop more inclusive. In doing so, MSMEs will play a major role. According to a study, 45% of carbon emissions are going to be reduced by MSMEs through circular economy principles. Scope 3 emissions mitigation will be a big challenge for companies, but if they can find a magic formula to curb the same wherein supply chain would play a catalytic role, then the ball will be in their court. The government is at the helm of change and has been laying immense thrust on imbibing green goals. We are already on the right track where consumers are eco-conscious and are driving the demand.

When we talk about industries, we must look at them from the sectors they serve. So we have service based industries and manufacturing based industries. The way these industries operate is different and hence the obstacles and opportunities in achieving circularity for both are different.

Service industries includes IT industry, Hospitality, Healthcare, Tourism and Transport, Banking and Finance, etc. In these industries, the people’s behaviour approach is a major challenge. But at the same times, it presents itself as a huge opportunity. Lack of sustainability awareness among most employees and customers is a root cause of the problem. If service based companies would drive regular green awareness campaigns for its stakeholders though social media campaigns, it would bring drastic change in their behavior. We need to aware the masses that we are heading towards a climate catastrophe.

How we are responsible and what can we do about it as an individual and as a collective group. I think our Prime Minister’s LiFE (Lifestyle of Environment) mission is a perfect example for this. If we could monitor and measure the negative impact of their daily activities thought the means of already available technologies and show the results to them, this would bring a sudden change in their behavior of consuming resources. The manufacturing industries have a unique opportunity to embrace circular economy. According to me, one of the major opportunities is through the design for circularity. The manufacturers can design out waste, conduct life cycle analysis in the product design phase and take responsibility at the end use of their products. This will not only reduce their need for virgin materials but will also help them to reduce cost and become more competitive in the market. They can also make consumers more aware on the ways to responsibly dispose their products after consumption through smart labelling practices. The major challenge they are facing is that there lies a big gap between the supply and demand for raw materials, which are refurbished, remanufactured, and recycled. We need to build a cycle of green supply chain for the purpose of integrating circularity into manufacturing industries.

Mitesh Gangar

Mitesh Gangar, Head – Business & Supply Chain, Aarti Industries: Circularity has been a powerful theme in the chemicals industry. As chemical reactions are carried out, there are invariably by-products or co-products that get generated along with the main product. AIL has pioneered the value addition or valorization of such streams.

To share some examples, AIL was the first in India to use the byproduct hydrochloric acid to convert to calcium chloride and export this to various markets for oil & gas and other related applications. Similarly, the sulphuric acid streams are used to make a fertilizer - single super phosphate which is a great fertilizer for soil found in western India and helps India reduce import dependency on fertilizers like diammonium phosphate.

We are working with our suppliers to get recycled or bio-circular raw materials which will further boost this circularity. For example, petrochemical crackers can take the waste plastic as feedstock and the products generated could be circular taking the mass balance approach (in proportion of the recycled feedstock).

Ravikant Parvataneni: Changing the existing infrastructure ecosystem is going to be the single biggest challenge because there is a huge set of already available old infrastructure.

We are a growing nation, which means resource consumption, GHG emissions, new warehouses / transportation. How do we strike a balance with our ESG Goals?

Mitesh Gangar: Our feedstock comes from refineries, mines, or fertilizer companies. We do value addition over these and then supply our products to other chemical (active) manufacturers.

While we do this, we, of course, consume a lot of carbon. We make derivatives of benzene, toluene, etc., and they inherently contain carbon. We consume more than 4.5 lakh metric tons of coal, which gives us electricity as well as steam, which is used for the processing of chemicals.

We have been working on multiple initiatives w.r.t. optimizing our consumption. We recently announced a hybrid power project to take care of almost 25% of our power needs in partnership with a service provider who is going to set up solar as well as wind capacities to help get us at least a particular portion of our electricity needs from renewable resources. For all our boilers which earlier were only coal-based boilers, we are converting them into dual feed boilers, which means we will be able to use biomass along with coal in various proportions.

There is an interesting case study that I’d like to share - for one of the products that we manufacture, the demand exceeded the capacity. This was a challenge thrown to the local site team to increase the production capacity. During the analysis, they highlighted the need for increasing the reaction & separation capacities and proportional addition of utilities. This was a simple scale-up in order to expand the capacity. When they raised this demand, we realized that we simply didn’t have enough space to be able to put all of these together. It was not possible to buy land adjacent to our site or take this additional capacity to another location. Then came an exciting revelation from a young engineer. He highlighted an entire product stream, which is coming out at an elevated temperature, and we were cooling it and such heat was lost to the utilities. He came up with an idea to utilize this excess heat for our raw materials. The moment we implemented this solution, the need for an additional utility went away. We were able to use this waste heat, make our process greener, and double our capacity with less than a 10% increase in the utility load. Such incidences only reflect that growth is possible even if we take the green route.

Ravikant Parvataneni: We should invest in developing logistics infrastructure which will help reduce pollution and bring in efficiencies. Good roads, lesser traffic congestions, lower pollution, etc., are some examples. Similarly, there should be good warehousing infrastructure that leads to sustained reduced unit costs in the long run.

What is the governing standard while engaging disposal/ containment of assets, especially in the chemical industry?

Mitesh Gangar: We continue to assess the useful life of our equipment. A lot of our chemicals are hazardous and therefore there can be safety issues even when discarding the waste equipment.

We continually assess the residual useful life of the equipment and when that is reached, we move towards the replacement decision of that particular asset. It’s our responsibility to dispose of such assets in the right manner.

Hazardous chemicals are sent to different processors depending on the suitable method to dispose of them – effluent treatment, incineration, or solid waste disposal. Metal would be sold to another processor. There are challenges because the industry remains largely unorganized. Our teams handhold and educate them on proper handling. We also perform regular audits to ensure that the right practices are being followed.

How much of a role does a SC consultant really play in the design phase today in helping the client manage the assets smartly?

Ravikant Parvataneni: I would like to turn this question and ask ourselves – are we playing an enabling role? May be not! Our roles especially on the downstream supply chain has been limited to helping companies reduce the cost per unit. We are as good as the clients. When we suggest solutions, it is always specific to our customers’ requirements. The moment we try to bring in sustainability into operations, that will first increase the consulting cost. It is good to see that whenever it is strategic consulting, customers have started requesting to bring in sustainability aspect as well.

It is just not about warehousing or transportation cost or the total supply chain cost reduction, but it is also about carbon footprint. For us, it is much easier to get involved at the design stage, rather than doing retrofit for clients.

Considering the current challenges of climate change, how can India transform into a sustainable / infra environment? Can you provide a view of some of the best practise here?

Dr. Mala Singh: We were already smart & sustainable if we trace the ancient history of India. We were developing structures that were inherently sustainable in nature. We were sourcing materials locally; we were using indigenous techniques to develop the infrastructure and we were addressing the aspect of biodiversity. In short, we were actually developing the infrastructure in harmony with nature. However, owing to the exploitation of resources, all thanks to rapid industrialization, exploding populations, sustainable infrastructure development took a complete backseat.

Green today has become the need of the hour. Now a days, climate change, global warming, resource depletion, have become a great threat for all of us. We don’t have any option left but to bring back our culture of being in sync with the ecology. It’s startling to state that each year, Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we have used all the biological resources that the Earth can renew during the entire year. This means that humanity currently uses 75% more than what the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. From Earth Overshoot Day until the end of the year, humanity operates on ecological deficit spending.

We are already sitting at the tipping point. In this context, developing smart & sustainable infrastructure becomes pertinent, which is fundamentally based on the principles of green. Smart is no more sufficient, which we achieve through the deployment of new age technology tools. Bringing back the ancient culture & heritage values has to be an integral part of the development.

When we talk about People, Planet and Profit together, results in the sustainable development. Every development on this planet has to be more inclusive, which not only just address the needs of business or the strategic goals, but also addresses the environmental goals and social requirements. To me, this will be truly a ‘Shashwat Vikas’ if we can achieve this. India aims to reach net zero by 2070.

The Government has declared plan to add 50 GW of renewable energy capacity annually for next 5 years to achieve the target of 500 GW by 2030. I am optimistic the way all the stakeholders are uniting to fight the climate change menace in the country and looking forward to a sustainable future for our next generations.

Mitesh Gangar: India has always had the opportunity to leapfrog across technologies. So, like with the example of almost skipping landlines in every household to now having mobile phones for each user, there is an opportunity to directly adopt sustainable and smart infrastructure. We see this happening in automobiles, and we are actively evaluating using electric-powered vehicles even for heavy cargo transport. We are taking the IGBC green certification for newer offices/ buildings. We are actively working on route optimization and reducing the fuel intensity of logistics by transporting the optimal volumes per trip.

Sanjay Desai: India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world since the last decade because of its own domestic economy / high consumption supported by its ever growing middle class and its increasing regional and cross border trade.

However, a consistent growth of this magnitude has its own challenges. And one of them is achieving ESG compliance for all industry sectors. It requires a multifaceted approach involving government policies, industry initiatives and stakeholder collaborations. A few of the strategic best practices are covered below…

  • Energy efficiency solutions like energy efficient smart buildings, green standards in building technologies in office as well as homes, introduction of electric vehicles and extensive use of hydrogen as a fuel.
  • Waste management and recycling practices like converting waste into energy, encourage use of biodegradable and eco-friendly packaging materials, improving training and awareness for recycling practices across industry segments.
  • Water conservation via day-today practices like reducing water wastages, averting leakage & promoting organic farming, reducing use of chemicals/ fertilizers and finally encourage crop diversification supported by sustainable farming.
  • Encourage industries to adopt circular product development strategies with closed-loop production process and re-use and/ or scavenge finished and semi-finished goods as much as possible before they go landfill.
  • Resilience in disaster recovery and preparedness plans to withstand weather disruptions or other extreme conditions like deluges or wildfires. There is also a need to verify their feasibility and robustness.
  • India’s agricultural throughput contributes 15% to India’s US$3 trillion economy. It also employs close to 45% of the total working population and covers 40% of country’s land mass. India needs to adopt organic farming to reduce the use of chemicals and fertilizers, invest in techniques of sustainable land management practices including preserving rainwater (water harvesting).

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