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Godrej Industries’ Journey Towards Sustainable Excellence

Godrej Industries, a prominent name in the Indian business landscape, has long been committed to environmental responsibility and social consciousness. In 2011, the company formalised its dedication to sustainability through its “Good & Green” vision, setting structured targets and strategies for the future. Over the years, Godrej Industries has achieved significant milestones, but it acknowledges that the journey towards sustainability is an ongoing process.

Godrej’s Sustainability Journey Since 2011

Phase I: Setting the Foundation

In the first decade of its sustainability journey, Godrej Industries established straightforward targets. As part of its environmental goals, the company aimed to reduce emissions significantly, striving for net-zero or positive emissions, eliminating waste to landfills, and enhancing water and energy efficiency. As for social responsibility, the company focused on creating employment opportunities and combating vector-borne diseases. These targets formed the bedrock of their commitment to sustainability. While they achieved remarkable success, they also learned valuable lessons along the way.

Phase II: Resharpening and Refocusing on the Sustainability Vision

Phase II was an extension of initiatives undertaken in Phase I while adapting to rapidly evolving regulations and technology. It also involved setting shorter milestones to ensure the sustainability strategy remains agile and adaptive.

The distinguishing factor between Phase I and Phase II is the expansion of focus from operations to the entire value chain. “We’ve grown or evolved into something more far-reaching than just our operations”, says Vaidyanathan.  Godrej Industries is now actively promoting sustainable behaviour in procurement, among suppliers, logistics, and consumers. This holistic approach is aimed at creating products that encourage sustainable consumption, extending the company’s impact beyond its operations.

Company Initiatives for the World Outside of Godrej

Recognising climate change as a priority, Godrej Industries has been committed to decarbonisation based on science-based targets, bridging the gap through carbon sequestration. The company is a signatory to Global Science-based Target initiatives, and all group companies have pledged to reduce absolute emissions, aiming for internal net-zero targets of 2035.

The company is also a water-positive company as it returns 4.5 litres of water to the environment for every litre withdrawn through flagship water programs in four Indian states, namely, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. “The water program has been eye-opening, and a fantastic holistic project”, says Vaidyanathan. Through the program, Godrej Industries has been able to create value for the communities in these States as farmers have access to more water and a better livelihood. There has been an increase in the cropping cycles and regeneration of biodiversity in these areas. 

Godrej Industries has been working on innovative solutions to make packaging more sustainable while complying with extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations. Through constant research & development, the company has been deriving innovative solutions to reduce the use of plastic. “Two examples of products are the powder-to-liquid handwash and magic body wash”, says Vaidyanathan. 

The company has committed to doubling its energy productivity by 2030, with 2018 as the baseline year, in alignment with the EP100, a global corporate energy efficiency initiative led by Climate Group.

Challenges on the Sustainability Journey

“Initially, it was the cost of technology and the maturity of technology that was a major challenge on our journey. The renewable energy story in India is a classic example. As the technology evolved, the uptake has been exponential. India is a success story of solar energy because of its vast production at such a low cost.” says Vaidyanathan. The question that currently poses to Godrej Industries and is a major challenge on the journey is, “How do we act as a multiplier force to drive sustainability across the value chain?”, says Vaidyanathan. The company has been identifying different strategies to get buy-in from different stakeholders in the value chain and manage them along the journey. 

Changing Consumer Mindsets – A Major Opportunity Than A Risk

Godrej Industries has been challenging the fundamental belief that sustainability comes at a premium. An example of the same is their powder-to-liquid handwash, which is not only a green product but also the cheapest handwash in the world. “We have democratised handwashing by giving people a responsibly sourced product at a low cost”, says Vaidyanathan.

The company also recognises the changing preferences of consumers worldwide and how the evolution is happening in certain sectors. “People are more concerned about what they consume and the current and the upcoming generations will only be more demanding of the companies. This acts as a significant opportunity rather than a risk and brings a whole new market”, says Vaidyanathan.

The company also recognises communication as a key to creating awareness and promoting sustainability and aims to do so through the packaging of its products and by presenting its employees as sustainability torchbearers. “Majority efforts are required in communication, keeping it going, and reinforcing it from time to time”, says Vaidyanathan. 

Empowering The World Within Godrej

“It is important for employees to feel they are a part of something larger than themselves”, says Vaidyanathan. Godrej Industries has gamified sustainability for its employees. They have developed an application where employees can log their sustainability behaviour and activities and then the highest-ranking employees on the leaderboard are awarded. The company has also created a common platform for employees to share sustainability practices, and new tools and technologies they come across, thus, creating awareness. 

Sustainability Mantra for Today and Tomorrow

1. Learning about sustainability should be a continuous process and view sustainability not as a competitive parameter, but as an opportunity for collaboration.

2. Take Action – “Don’t just talk, act, no matter how intimidating the issue on hand may seem. The key is to get started and not let perfect be the enemy of good”, states Vaidyanathan.

3. Be the beacon for others to follow, inspiring a positive change in the industry.

 

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