Embedding sustainability as a responsibility, Welspun Group has adopted the philosophy of growth with responsibility, laying a roadmap for businesses to not just take on environmental and social issues, but to solve them. As the company aims to leverage the size and influence of the organisation to make a powerful positive impact in the life of local communities and in preserving the environment, Dipali Goenka, CEO & Jt. MD, Welspun India, in an interview with Business Today talks about the company’s focus and spending on ESG and the role government can play to promote ESG among corporates.
BT: What kind of work has Welspun Group undertaken in the ESG space?
DG: Welspun Group is an industry leader in the domain of ESG and sustainability and has adopted a path of inclusive growth. Restoring ecosystems is the focal point of the group’s ESG efforts. It has defined sustainability goals and targets as a necessary first step and has put an implementation road map around these goals to achieve them in a timely manner.
In the domain of environment, we have taken up activities around energy transition from conventional sources to renewable energy. Welspun Group’s goal is to use 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2030, use of SBTi tool for developing the Net Zero goals. SPUN by Welspun has been recognised as one of the Top 100 Corporate-Ready Social Enterprises, globally. SPUN ensures the upcycling of textile waste instead of its accumulation in landfills, it has helped local communities spin a new future, providing women with opportunities that have increased their incomes while empowering them, personally and professionally.
[We have ensured] zero fresh water use at Anjar [as] process water is obtained by treatment of municipal sewage from 3 municipal areas – Gandhidham, Adipur and Anjar by a 30 MLD capacity sewage treatment plant.
On [the] social front, we have well established CSR programs in the areas of education, empowerment and environment & health. We offer support to women entrepreneurship with Wel-Netrutva, have education programs like class room digitisation under Wel-shiksha and Super sports women program – promotion of young budding athletes for their career progression. Governance include setting up ESG committees at board level with clear roles and responsibilities, policy and guidelines on ethics and anti-corruption & anti-bribery, third party run whistle blower mechanism [to maintain neutrality], ESG performance data monitoring and reporting through IT tool and implementation of product traceability tool – Weltrack - for tracking the entire value chain of textile product manufacturing from farm to shelf.
BT: Out of the three pillars of ESG, where is most of the work happening for Welspun Group?
DG: Each of the three pillars holds equal importance and at Welspun Group, businesses have initiated actions around each one of them. The efforts made in the three areas is reflected in the DJSI scores for the company last year. In its maiden ranking on the DJSI, Welspun India’s ESG Score stood at 48, which is over 62 per cent higher than the average industry score. It has also been validated in the CRISIL’s rating of companies in its Sustainability Yearbook 2022. Based on fiscal 2021 data, CRISIL analyzed ESG efforts of over 575 companies across 53 sectors and Welspun India Ltd. was rated “Strong”. Welspun India leads among textile companies with the highest scores in all three dimensions of Environment, Social and Governance.
Earlier this year, Welspun India received 1st rank under ‘Best Industry’ category at the National Water Awards by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti for its water stewardship and state-of-the-art 30 million litres per day sewage treatment plant (STP) at Anjar in the drought-prone Kutch district. The company was also recognized with a Jury Special Mention Award for its STP to recycle and reuse domestic sewage at the Frost & Sullivan and TERI’s Sustainability 4.0 Awards 2021, which honored companies embedding Sustainability with Economic Value Creation.
BT: What is Welspun Group’s annual spending on ESG?
DG: The Group has substantial running expenses on ESG activities like running and maintenance of STP, waste management, air pollution management, sustainable raw material sourcing and education of farmers, energy efficiency projects, etc. For social projects through the CSV (Corporate Social Values) initiatives the total expenses in FY 21 was Rs 631.24 lakh.
BT: Has the mandatory Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) for top 1000 companies helped in the adoption of ESG? If yes, how?
DG: ESG implementation at Welspun has largely preceded the BRSR requirement under SEBI guidelines. The company has established its ESG goals beyond regulatory compliance requirements in multiple domains under E, S and G. However, the implementation of BRSR has helped the company in structured reporting of ESG performance which is a key metric for customers and investors. It has also helped in the understanding of various ESG principles as described in the SEBI guidelines.
BT: What role is the government of India and industry bodies playing in promoting ESG amongst the Indian corporates?
DG: Government plays an important role by setting up the right policy environment for implementation of ESG actions. Awards and recognitions by the government agencies also motivate industries for their ESG actions. Like the Ministry of Jal Shakti award to Welspun in the Best Industry category has motivated the team at Welspun for more such path breaking actions in water stewardship. Government policy in the renewable energy space has also helped in adoption of renewable energy solutions by companies which in turn impacts the GHG emissions caused by them. Industry bodies also help by being the bridge between the policy makers and the industries and passing the industry concerns to the relevant policy departments.
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