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Green is the new black

Mahindra companies are walking the talk on climate change initiatives, while also strategically tapping green business opportunities for growth

The discourse around climate change inevitably raises the ‘black’ doomsday scenarios. And that no longer seem exaggerated or farfetched given that:

  • Australia and the Amazon rainforest are burning with rampaging wildfires
  • The Antarctic icecap is melting at unprecedented levels
  • Innumerable species of birds and insects are disappearing around us
  • In India, we have seen large swathes of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka inundated by severe flooding
  • Delhi shivering under the coldest winter in over a century -- the impact on lives and property is incalculable

Clearly, some of the biggest risks to business arise from climate change -- there are extreme weather events that impact business operations.

Climate change is a reality that industry needs to face. More, industry needs to step up and be the engine that drives climate change mitigation efforts. "It’s about staying alive. I think in the future when we look back there will be two types of companies - companies that got it, and companies that didn’t get it. I know which segment I would like to belong to,” says Chairman Anand Mahindra.

Recognising this early on, the Mahindra Group has been at the forefront of this battle, and has in fact, taken on the mission of becoming carbon neutral by 2040 -- an audacious move that calls for massive changes to the operational ecosystem of the 100+ companies that form the Mahindra conglomerate.

Waging war on waste

Humanity is a creative species, but we also create millions of tonnes of waste. It’s a battle that nature is losing and the need of the hour is to wage war on waste.

Mahindra follows a zero-waste philosophy and manages waste at every stage – from prevention to minimization, reuse to recycling and from energy recovery to disposal. Last year, there were only seven Zero-Waste-to-Landfill (ZWL) factories in the world -- and five of them were Mahindra plants. This year, the number of ZWL facilities have grown to 11 plants, one research centre and one resort. No waste from these facilities goes to landfills.

Club Mahindra's Virajpet property in Coorg, Karnataka, became India’s first ZWL resort with 100% diversion of hazardous waste towards recycling. Absolutely no burning or burying of waste. The resort has eliminated the use of cartons and wood for packaging, converts canteen waste into biogas, and has invested in an incinerator, a natural composting machine and a bottle crusher to stay eco-friendly.

Several Group companies have launched initiatives to cut plastic usage, reducing plastic waste by 2.1-tonnes in 2019. The Group is driving public awareness and behaviour change globally through its #CutTheCrap communication campaign.

Mining waste for value

Mahindra World City, Chennai, is India’s first urban pocket that is free from food waste. It has a bio-CNG facility that converts 100 % wet waste to CNG that powers vehicles within the city. Discarded vehicles are a form of waste and the Group has invested in CERO, India’s first authorised vehicle recycling facility, which converts old cars, trucks, etc to metal scraps. The foundry sand waste from Mahindra and Mahindra plants is used for making fly-ash bricks, which can be used in construction projects.

Changing the energy goalposts

Energy is a big contributor to emissions. Mahindra and Mahindra was the first Indian signatory of EP100 – a program in which we pledged to double energy productivity by 2030 on a baseline of 2005. The group’s Automotive Business has improved energy productivity by 91%. This means we now use 63% less energy to produce a vehicle as compared to eight years ago. The Agricultural Business has improved energy efficiency by 53% -- it now takes 33% less energy to manufacture a tractor.

Race to renewables

Renewable energy is a focus area and Mahindra has more than doubled share of renewables, with its focus on solar energy rooftop projects. Mahindra Holidays has committed to switching to 100% renewables. The resort at Kanha, close to the tiger preserves of Madhya Pradesh, is completely run on solar energy. Solar energy is also a business area and the Group’s clean energy division, Mahindra Susten, has executed over 540MWp projects, with another 500MWp under execution.

Respecting nature

Plastic waste is an abomination that destroys the land and the ocean with microplastics now showing up in soil and fish. Looking to reduce single-use plastics, several Group companies have launched initiatives to cut plastic usage. The impact? A 2.1-ton reduction in plastic waste in 2019. The Group is driving public awareness and behaviour change globally through its #CutTheCrap communication campaign.

Not just plastic. The Group has joined the movement for a water-resilient future. Mahindra achieved Water Positive status some years ago, consuming less water than it saves through a variety of initiatives. A micro irrigation scheme in Gujarat and a rainwater harvesting project in Madhya Pradesh are among the initiatives that supply water to India’s farmers and villagers.

Green cover is our last bastion against climate change as trees are a huge source for carbon sequestration and oxygen generation. The Mahindra Group has planted 16 million trees in past 10 years. Moreover, the trees survive and grow, with a survival rate of about 70%.

Reviving nature

Mahindra achieved Water Positive status some years ago, consuming less water than it saves through a variety of initiatives. A micro irrigation scheme in Gujarat and a rainwater harvesting project in Madhya Pradesh are among the initiatives that supply water to India’s farmers and villagers.

Green cover is our last bastion against climate change as trees are a huge source for carbon sequestration and oxygen generation. The Mahindra Group has planted 16 million trees in past 10 years. Moreover, the trees survive and grow, with a survival rate of about 70%.

It pays to go green

The last few years have seen the Mahindra group successfully focus on its green business portfolio. Electric vehicles, green buildings, micro-irrigation, solar power, smart IT -- these add more than $400 million to the Group’s topline revenues.

E-mobility is the big move

E-mobility and shared mobility are movements that reduce carbon footprint. These are a focus area for the Group which launched India’s first 3-wheeler in 2002, acquired the electric car Reva in 2010 and became founding members for the electric vehicle racing platform, Formula-E. Now Mahindra has introduced the electric scooter ‘GenZe’ in the United States, which has been developed in Silicon Valley and manufactured in Michigan. Electric autos have a role to play and about 1,000 electric three-wheelers will be deployed in Delhi-NCR in a bid to reduce air pollution. Mahindra has partnered with rideshare platform OLA to use Mahindra electric hatchbacks and sedans in Hyderabad and Nagpur. In the farm sector, Trringo is a first-of-its-kind business model for farmers to rent tractors.

Green buildings save more

In keeping with the 2040 carbon neutrality goal, many of our companies are heading towards making existing buildings and plants green certified. The immediate benefits are savings in electricity bills ~20%, water bills ~30% and O&M costs. Mahindra Lifespaces, which has a portfolio of more than 90 % green buildings, is building a carbon neutral city in Jaipur as a part of the C40 Clinton Climate Initiative.

Making the green list

All these commitments are helping the company on its path to go carbon neutral. It is the only Indian corporate to be listed as an "Organization to Watch" by the GreenBiz Group in the 2019 edition of its prestigious annual ‘State of Green Business’ report.

Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra Group, says, "It is exciting to use innovative new technologies to drive our energy efficiency and discover possibilities in the overlap of planet and profit." Anand Mahindra sums up the Group’s climate change vision in one crisp sentence: "It is not sustainability or profit; it is sustainability with profit." That's the mantra for a future-facing organisation.