Industry’s imperatives for sustainability in present times

July 2, 2021

The Brundtland Commission,set up under the aegis of the United Nations, in its report submitted in 1987, described sustainability as meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet its own needs.

That definition of sustainability assumes immense significance today as industrial activity gets ramped up at a faster pace globally. In present times, it is imperative for an environmentally aware business enterprise to consider more than just profits.It should consider its impact on society and the environment. Such a business model is sustainable because it contributes to the health of the structure within which it operates, thereby facilitating an environment in which businesses can thrive.

Today, business sustainability is defined as managing the triple bottom line, a process by which firms manage their financial, social and environmental risks and obligations. These three pillars of sustainability are often referred to as ‘profit, people and planet.’

In the year 2015, the United Nations set up the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were agreed upon by 193 Member-States of the UN. These SDGs are a collection of 17 inter linked global goals designed to be a ”blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” These goals include Clean Water & Sanitation, Affordable & Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities & Communities and Climate Action, among others. The SDGs are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. Unlike for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), corporates are expected to play a substantial role in the fulfilment of SDGs. The financial community has gradually begun to not only actively support businesses that embed sustainability in their core strategy but have a lso begun to demand disclosures of their sustainable performance and future strategy around it.

At Tata Steel, sustainability has always been a core principle that is embedded in its business philosophy and is backed by a long-term, holistic vision of achieving identified targets. The Company’s operating philosophy is deep-rooted in its principles of zero harm, resource efficiency, circular economy, minimising its ecological footprint and care for the community and workforce.

This approach of the Company is aligned with its overall vision to be industry leader in the domains of Climate Change, Water, Waste Utilisation and Biodiversity. Underpinning this are strategies on low-carbon transition, reducing dependence on freshwater consumption, maximising value from waste and exploring opportunities in the circular economy. It also includes enhancing biodiversity in areas where the Company has its operations, building a sustainable and resilient supply chain and customer-focussed product stewardship.

Over the last few years, Tata Steel has made considerable progress on several environmental parameters. They include 100 per cent solid waste utilisation and more than 40 per cent reduction in specific water consumption at our steel plants in Jamshedpur and Kalingangar. Tata Steel Jamshedpur, at C02 emission intensity of 2.27 tC02/tcs (tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of crude steel), continues to be the national benchmark. Our steel plant in the Nether lands is amongst the best-performing integrated steel plants globally in terms of C02 emission intensity.

At Tata Steel, we do recognise the fact that we depend upon natural resources such as iron ore, coal and other minerals, which constitute our key raw materials. At the same time,land and water are indispensable to our operations. We strive for excellence in our environment performanc e and resource efficiency to mitigate our ecological footprint.

For our operations in India, we aspire to reduce our carbon emissions to > 2 tCO 2 /tcs by 2025 with the adoption of best available technologies and mitigate dependence on freshwater by lowering specific freshwater consumption to >1.5 m 3 /tcs by 2030. For our steelmaking operations in Europe, the Company aspires to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and has adopted an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions from steelmaking by around 30 per cent (over 2018) by 2030.

The Company is a signatory to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures for climate change and has identified transition risks and opportunities to decarbonise operations over a period of time. Specific mitigation and contingency plans for each of the identified risks have been integrated with the Company’s long-term strategy.

Tata Steel is also focussed on transitioning to lower carbon-intensive operations. The Company’s recent foray into the steel recycling business is primarily aimed at promoting sustainable steelmaking and creating a circular economy for steel.

The continued focus on Sustainability has helped the operations of the Company, in India as well as Europe, to be recognised as Sustainability Champions by World Steel Association for four consecutive years. Recognition of Tata Steel Group by CDP (formerly Carbon Disc losure Project) as one of the top-six steel companies in the world to achieve Leadership Band of A- for climate change disclosures is testimony to the Company’s long-term commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Company ranked among the top-five global steel companies in Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) Corporate Sustainability Assessment 2020 and has retained its position in the DJSI merging Markets Index for the 9th year in a row.


Vice President (Safety, Health & Sustainability), Tata Steel

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