Bisleri’s Sustainable Approach: A Greener Future Through Plastic Circularity and Water Conservation
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Bisleri’s Sustainable Approach: A Greener Future Through Plastic Circularity and Water Conservation

In an interaction with BW Retail World, Angelo George, Chief Executive Officer, Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd talks about the company’s sustainable approach and how the company is addressing the issues like plastic production and sourcing water from underground aquifers.

What is Bisleri’s strategy around sustainability? What are their visions and goals for promoting sustainability in their business operations?
At Bisleri, sustainability has always been an integral part of our business strategy. We were one of the first companies in India to recycle plastic since the ’90s, and we are passionate about plastic circularity. The ‘Bisleri Greener Promise’ anchors our programs for conserving natural resources and ensuring plastic circularity.

We recycle more plastic than we consume and replenish more water than we process for our business.

Our business model focuses on the responsible extraction of groundwater. We have plants spread across the country to extract groundwater evenly, which maximises scale benefit and reduces proximity to the market, thus lessening carbon footprint. 

Our manufacturing processes convert>90 per cent of water processed into finished goods, reducing wastage. All our plants have robust water harvesting systems, and we restore water bodies to help recharge groundwater. 

Our packaging materials have always been 100 per cent recyclable. Our approach has been to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic.

Design innovations have helped us reduce over 10 per cent of virgin plastic consumption last year. Our focus on reusable containers to minimise virgin plastic consumption contributes to almost 30 per cent of our business. 

Besides, we have been promoting the repurposing of plastic in collaboration with recyclers.

We have also invested in solar panels at our plants and are using electric delivery vehicles to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint in operations.

Can you elaborate on the specific initiatives and projects undertaken by Bisleri under recycling plastic and conserving water?
Bisleri Greener Promise is about creating a greener future through plastic circularity and water conservation.

The initiative to reduce virgin plastic usage through design improvements and the reuse of containers has helped us reduce the carbon footprint by over 40,000 MT last year. 

We have collaborated with Municipal Corporations, NGOs and recyclers to ensure we recycle more plastic than we consume. We have been promoting plastic circularity – where used plastic is segregated, collected, recycled and reintroduced into the consumption cycle. 

For example, our uniforms are made out of recycled PET bottles. We work with vendors to create value-added repurposing of used plastic into apparels, bags, shoes, paving blocks, benches, utility items, among others which extend the life.

Our program ‘Bottles For Change’ creates awareness that used plastic is a valuable resource that can be recycled. The program follows a 3-stage process – cleaning, segregating at source and providing enabling mechanisms to send it directly to recyclers. 

Cleaner plastic generates higher returns for everyone in the value chain. The objective is to prevent used plastic from ending up in landfills. 

The program has reached over 600,000 people across 13 cities with a footprint of 3500 housing societies, 680 educational institutions, 790 corporates, and 600 hotels. We have also established a village-level model in Gujarat with the objective of making them plastic waste-free villages. We plan to extend the program Bottles For Change to 20 cities by 2025.

Our water conservation activities are grouped under Project Nayi Umeed. The rainwater harvesting systems at our plants and the restoration of water bodies nearby help recharge the groundwater table.

In rural areas, we repair and maintain Check Dams to conserve rainwater for irrigation. The project provides access to clean water, improves sanitation, and hygiene, and increases scope for irrigation in arid terrain. It aids in cultivating multiple crops throughout the year improving the livelihood of farmers. Under this program, we have built and restored over 200 Check Dams, harvesting approximately 22 billion litres of water, turning barren lands into fertile farms. We have covered 124 villages helping to irrigate over 13,000 acres of land, benefitting over 40,000 villagers.

What are the reasons behind the declining groundwater levels, and how is Bisleri contributing to restoring and conserving them?
India is home to 16 per cent of the world’s population but only holds 4 per cent of the world’s freshwater resources. Despite this, India is the world’s largest user of groundwater, with an estimated annual consumption of more than 600 billion cubic meters. Irrigation accounts for almost 87 per cent of the total annual groundwater extraction, and about 13 per cent is used between domestic and industrial consumption. Rapid urbanization has also led to more land getting developed and paved, preventing percolation to the groundwater table, increasing urban flooding and surface runoff.

Rainfall is the main source, contributing to more than 61 per cent of total annual groundwater recharge. Sustainable water management practices are required to replenish groundwater resources. Water-efficient crops, water-prudent irrigation methods, sensible domestic consumption and process efficiency in industry are the need of the hour.

Bisleri’s Project Nayi Umeed is a key initiative to harvest & conserve rainwater. We have implemented rainwater harvesting systems in our factories and warehouses to ensure rainwater is collected and recharged to the ground. Besides, we are helping farmers in rural areas by restoring Check Dams and converting barren land to irrigated farms benefitting farmers. Participation of villagers in the restoration and maintenance of the Check Dams ensures their ownership in sustaining the benefits of the project. Project Nayi Umeed provides them with perennial availability of water, improving sanitation levels and helping the community at large.

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