Reduce Footprints, Increase Handprints!

Reduce Footprints, Increase Handprints!

Establishing circular economy business models, designing for reuse and recycling, and understanding the impact of operations on biodiversity are the key to sustainability, says JAGDISH AGARWAL.Owens Corning (OC) operates multiple manufacturing facilities for products c...

Establishing circular economy business models, designing for reuse and recycling, and understanding the impact of operations on biodiversity are the key to sustainability, says JAGDISH AGARWAL.Owens Corning (OC) operates multiple manufacturing facilities for products combining three flagship businesses: Composites, Roofing and Insulation. While companies are finding ways to offer innovative solutions, OC has thought beyond innovation and adopted sustainability as its core business strategy. This helped the company earn a place for the tenth year in a row in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI) for sustainability performance. And for the seventh straight year, OC was named Industry Leader for the DJSI World Building Products Group.OC’s leadership uses a framework that supports managing the company as a sustainable enterprise. The pillars of our sustainable enterprise framework are high-performance people, customer-inspired innovation, operational excellence, world-class sustainability and financial strength. These pillars guide our evaluation of businesses, performance criteria, resource allocation, and other strategic choices focused on both short-term and long-term horizons. They also enable us to better serve key stakeholders, including customers, investors, employees and the communities in which we operate. Our people and our products make the world a better place. That puts sustainability right at the heart of our company and core to our business success. It’s our guiding aspiration to be a net-positive company, where our handprint (the positive impacts of our people and products) exceeds our footprint.  Our 2030 sustainability goals are built on three key pillars: Reducing environmental footprint: Limiting the negative impact operations have on the environmentExpanding product handprint: Increasing the positive impact that products have on the world Increasing our social handprint: Ensuring people are safe and live with health, happiness and dignity.We believe focusing our efforts through the lens of these three pillars, guiding our operations and policies, we will achieve our vision of being a net-positive force in the world. We have made significant improvements around primary energy, greenhouse gas, toxic air emissions, particulate matter and water use, all of which are included in our 2020 goals. However, reducing our waste to landfill is an ongoing challenge and priority, from which we are not retreating. We continue to believe the right goal for us is to send zero waste to landfill.Our new long-term goals require us to do more and look beyond our own operations. Some address growing concerns, such as the need to ensure responsible use of water at all our facilities, especially those in areas where water is limited in quantity or quality. We’ve also set rigorous targets, such as reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with scientific guidance on what’s needed to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius. We will focus on learning and identifying needed innovations, like establishing growth-enabling circular economy business models for our products, designing for reuse and recycling, and understanding the full impact of our operations and supply chain on biodiversity.We know collaboration will be needed for this work and we are committed to engaging with our customers, suppliers, communities, policymakers, NGOs and others with aligned aspirations, and encouraging shared approaches to sustainability. We will expand our product handprint and succeed as a sustainable enterprise by offering recognised and preferred products for sustainability. Our products and systems address trends in energy-efficiency, product safety and sustainability, renewable energy, durable infrastructure, and labour productivity and efficiency. Thinking long-termThese are areas where the world needs innovation and we are well-positioned to grow our company by providing solutions to these critical, global challenges. For the first time, we’ve incorporated focused inclusion and diversity goals to ensure an environment where all employees are valued and appreciated for the distinct voices they bring to the team. Our social sustainability goals also include community engagement, safety, and healthy living—all vital to helping people thrive. We are very proud of the progress we’ve made through the efforts of our 19,000 employees around the world. Throughout the year, we have received many accolades for our sustainability commitment and results, which reaffirm that we are on the right path. While we appreciate the recognition, most important to us is our continued progress toward achieving our long-term goals. Our employees are energised by each step forward, inspired by our aspirations and excited by work that challenges the status quo.In the past, companies relied on a linear business model for products, where raw materials are extracted, used and then discarded at the end of their lifecycle. Today, we look for ways to transform to a circular economy model, one in which virgin raw materials, waste, energy and emissions are minimised through intelligent design, renewable and recycled inputs, energy-efficient production, and enabling the recyclability of products at the end of their lifecycle.In other words, we seek to: Avoid the use of virgin raw materials whenever possible Manufacture products in a way that has the least negative environmental impact Ensure materials used in our products and packaging remain in the economy indefinitely.Track recordWe hold our suppliers to the same high standards to which we hold ourselves. We see our suppliers as a key contributor to our overall sustainability vision and we expect all of them to comply with all applicable legislation, regulations and legal requirements regarding human rights, labour, the environment, anti-corruption, and trade and customs. All these efforts have led to elimination of over 16,500 metric tonne of greenhouse gas emissions (the equivalent of 920,000 trees emitting greenhouse gases in a year) and reduced energy use by 59,000+ megawatt hours, which provides electricity to nearly 50,000 homes for a year. In the past 25 years, in Asia alone, we have sold around 1 million mt fiberglass insulations and 5 million mt XPS foam insulations that helped buildings saved >500 billion kW-hr equivalent of four to five years of lighting needs for cities like Shanghai or four to five months of India’s total electricity demand.  Our next-generation fiberglass insulation product, Ecotouch®, has been installed at various warehouses, factories, textile mills, offices, hospitals and hotels for applications like roof/wall insulation, HVAC duct insulation, acoustics, etc. This new product does not use volatile organic compounds (VoCs) and has therefore achieved Green Guard – Gold certification, making it suitable for green buildings. Its distinguishing features, like being soft to the touch, hydrophobicity and incombustibility, have made it a product of first choice. Finally, a special mention is due to the use of OC fibreglass insulation in the ATAL tunnel project. We feel immense pride to have our products used for such projects of national significance! About the author: Jagdish Agarwal, CFO, Owens Corning (OC) India Pvt Ltd, is a business and corporate finance professional with over 20 years of exposure in achieving revenue, profit and business growth objectives within turnaround and rapid change environments. He has extensive experience in building and managing teams. In the past, he has worked in a variety of industries, such as telecommunication, banking and manufacturing, and has been associated with reputed organisations like Reliance Group, ICICI Bank and Kanoria Group. 

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