The Spiralling story of Sustainability - Living Our Purpose: Ophira Bhatia, Mondelez India
Guest Column: Ophira Bhatia, Director, Corporate Governance Affairs, Mondelez India, says the company aims to make snacking sustainable by creating a future where people and the planet thrive
2020 has been an unusual year, to say the least! We are all living through the threat of Covid-19 impacting our lives and loved ones. Over the last few weeks, we have experienced cyclones in Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal or the locust invasion. All of this reinforces the power of nature and the need for us to urgently live in balance with our environment.
At Mondelēz International, growing our positive impact on people and the planet is the core of who we are as a company. Our Purpose to empower people to snack right is deeply embedded in making snacking both sustainable and mindful by creating a future where people and planet thrive. More importantly, consumers, today expect their loved brands and companies to go beyond creating products. They want to know they can feel good about our snacks because they are made the right way, sustainably with high-quality ingredients and with respect to people and planet. Our approach to sustainability covers the efficiency of the farms where our raw ingredients grow, through the impact of the supply chain that produces and delivers our products, to the recyclability of the packaging that our consumers dispose of and to highlighting how our consumers can snacking mindfully.
Using our Purpose as its framework, our 2019 'Snacking Made Right' report details our achievements and objectives as we seek to deliver the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way for consumers and customers all over the world. The report outlines Mondelēz International’s ongoing commitment to leverage its global scale to deliver positive change. Our success in snacking made right lies in our ability to drive impact at scale and, as such, we focus our efforts in the two areas where we can make the biggest positive impact on the wellbeing of people and planet: sustainable snacking and mindful snacking.
Our India business has made significant strides as we live our purpose and stay tuned into the local needs of our consumers and the environment. So how are we making a real difference to sustainability? It starts with our business approach which takes into consideration our ecological, social and economic environment.
As we make our snacks the right way, I am so proud of the partnership we have with over 100,000 cocoa farmers in India to grow our key raw material for chocolates. This partnership goes back 55 years when Cadbury brought the first cocoa sapling to be planted in Kerala. Cocoa is not a native crop to India and when we started this journey in the southern states of the county, little must we have imagined that today we provide 3 million seedlings annually to support farmers grow cocoa as an intercrop. Our team continues to support farmers in growing cocoa – with extension services, R&D through academic and research partnerships. This whole partnership has been built on sustainability – leading to increasing in farm productivity, income stability (since farmers grow cocoa as an intercrop, they get a dual income from their primary crop and cocoa) and generating employment which has positively impacted communities.
From raw materials to packaging. Plastic packaging and Multi-Layered Plastics (MLP) contribute to food safety by effectively addressing key issues like adulteration, contamination and infestation. Globally, 93.3% of our total packaging (both plastic and non-plastic) is designed to be recyclable – our goal is to make all packaging recyclable by 2025. In India, all our MLP is 100% recycled through our Extended Producer Responsibility commitments. This implies we work with NGO partners to collect, segregate and dispose of plastics equivalent to the quantity of plastic that we use in the manufacture of our products, which unfortunately ends up as waste when consumers have consumed the product.
Mondelez is perhaps one of the few companies in India which are certified by EY as being water and carbon positive and zero waste to landfill. We have been consistently working to increase the usage of alternative sources of energy. By the end of 2019, Mondelez India manufacturing facilities ran on 44.4% renewable energy. For example, we have invested in a biodiesel project at our manufacturing plant at Induri, Maharashtra, where we have successfully reduced CO2 emissions at the plant by 1,450 tons (15%) per year. One of our largest plants in India, at Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, has a captive solar plant. And just over the last two years, we have planted very 25,000 trees in our communities – many of them are fruit trees.
Sustainability also implies our support of society and community. For the last 6 years, our Shubh Aarambh community project across 8 states has been engaging with communities to improve feeding practices, health and hygiene, nutrition and childhood development services to strengthen the future resilience of our communities. The aim of the project is to promote healthy lifestyles and ensure regular play/sports helping the children and young people to stay active and fit. The project has also partnered with communities to provide clean water supply, developing kitchen gardens and playgrounds and green spaces across various locations. This work becomes more important post the Covid pandemic as health and hygiene take centerstage.
With a strong foundation of beloved iconic brands, stakeholder partnerships and purposeful signature programs like Cocoa Life, I feel truly proud of the work we do. Very often purpose and values are words on a wall for organisations – but at Mondelez our business strategy is built around our purpose bringing benefits not only to our people, planet, communities but also driving business success.
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