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Sustainability in Chemical Industry

2020

Written by: Bhuwan Purohit

The Indian chemical industry has seen steady growth from right after the IInd World War. Currently, the industry is worth 150 billion USD, and aspires to double up by 2025. The chemical industry contributes to almost 15% of the total GDP of India’s manufacturing sector; hence proving to be an essential component of the country’s economic development. 

Global is the new Local!

it is interesting to note that the chemical industry is quite versatile - it is an integral part of several sectors such as pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and textiles, just to name a few. However, for the longest time, the chemical industry was not practising, or was unable to practise truly sustainable industrial practices. Things have changed drastically in the past few years, and several big names in the Indian chemical domain are now taking several measures to ensure that eco friendly and sustainable practises are adhered to. For its efforts, the Indian chemical industry has earned a good reputation in the global market. At present, the Indian chemical industry constitutes 3% of the total chemical market in the world. It also stands at the 6th position in terms of value across the globe. There is an increasing global demand for the specialty chemicals manufactured in India, which is also seeing a commendable growth since the previous few years. In fact, it is considered as one of the most sought after sectors for the global investors in the near future.

A recently launched initiative, ‘Together for Sustainability’ (TfS), has encouraged not only global players but also the manufacturers and suppliers of the Indian chemical industry to implement sustainable chemical manufacturing and operational processes. Launched by various chemical industry giants of the world, the sole purpose of this initiative is to institute yardsticks to create a system of sustainable supply chain management. The members of the TfS have allocated their resources into creating a global program to review and assess the suppliers based on certain pre-defined criteria across various organizational functions – both operational and administrative. 

Sustainable Chemical industry – Need of the hour

Currently, the chemical industry in India is responsible for producing more than 80,000 products that are used commercially. The Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (GoI) suggests that the sector is expected to grow to a whopping 300 billion USD by 2025, which is the double of its present value. The picture seems rosy, but isn’t it a fact that even though chemicals are a requisite, their negative impact on the environment is a matter of concern? The worries are higher for a country like India, which is a rapidly developing economy and has a population to match! 

The top chemical companies in India, such as Rubamin, have time and again proved their commitment towards a sustainable environment by initiating and participating in various programs, and inspiring others to do so. Sustainability is the key to success in the chemical industry - using sustainable practices for the production of chemicals is the way of the future. Through effective application of green-tech, companies, like Rubamin, are focusing on recycling and using processes that are more sustainable or innovating new strategies to ensure use of renewable energy, water recycling, by product upgradation, and inducing circularity in supply chain, which will reduce and eventually remove the requirement of using landfills. 

Sustainable Chemical Processes – The Do’s to follow

The need for sustainable practises in manufacturing and recycling  is  imperative, in view of the level of deterioration happening to the environment. Keeping that in mind, Rubamin which is one of the responsible chemical companies in India, adheres strictly to the environmental laws and follows some of the best practices that would help the society drive towards a sustainable future. Following are some of the practices with regards to sustainability that are followed at Rubamin – 

  1. Recycling of Industrial waste: Hazardous industrial waste and their inadequate treatment ends up contaminating the environment. Rubamin has emerged as the leading sustainable recycling company in India; with specially designed strategies to recycle hazardous waste from other industries using state of the art indigenous technology. 

  2. Using renewable resources for energy: Substituting regular fossil fuel based energy for everyday operation at a chemical manufacturing unit with renewable and inexhaustible energy. Making the operations sustainable has a tremendous impact on the carbon footprints. Such substitution is a foundation for a greener future. 

  3. Circularity in Business Activity: Rubamin, not only ensures optimum utilization of the available resources, but also aims at making them available and functioning for a longer duration. Its efforts towards a circular economy are quite extensive. The water present in sewage and drainage systems are recycled to use in the garden and process water is recycled 100%, to ensure zero liquid discharge from the plant. They follow the 3 Rs very judiciously - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

  4. Heat Recovery: At Rubamin, the residual heat from the operations is converted to steam for downstream operations at the unit. This is carried out to ensure optimum utilization of resources and minimising impact on the ecology. 

  5. 100% Recycling of waste: The ideal scenario would be to monitor the residues and emissions on a real time basis, to keep an eye on the levels of pollution happening. Rubamin deploys advanced instruments in order to display real-time readings to ensure that the emission levels do not affect the air quality adversely. Similarly, “zero to landfill” is ensured so that there are no residual chemicals polluting the land. All the residues are treated to be suitable for commercial or farm use.

  6. People and Surroundings: Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives aimed at, the betterment of the society, in addition to the economy and the environment, are the pillar on which Rubamin has been built. Rubamin, in association with Pratham Education Foundation, has been helping in the education of nearly 400 children, providing training to the teachers and organizing workshops for the mothers.

Rubamin is undoubtedly one of the responsible players in the chemical industry in India, and their adherence to sustainable practices and working towards the betterment of the nation takes them to a higher pedestal. They are a good example of a business that balances the three pillars of sustainability in the most efficient way - doing the best towards economic development, social responsibility as well as taking care of the environment.