Late management guru CK Prahalad famously said “Executives are constrained not by resources but by their imagination.”
Mahendra Singhi has proved CK right. In five years since he joined this company, he has turned the 80-year old and fourth largest cement manufacturing company in India into a global pioneer in sustainable manufacturing. He is India’s sustainable cement pioneer, champion and its global ambassador. Under his dynamic leadership, Dalmia Cement has been ranked number one cement company across global cement sector by award winning research series of CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project).
Mr. Singhi’s vision is to take a sector that belongs to the ‘hard-to-abate’ category, to ‘carbon negative’ by 2040, or earlier. Carbon negativity is the reduction of an entity’s carbon footprint to less than neutral, so that the entity in question has a net effect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding it.
- His latest adventure, said to be the first of its kind in the sector worldwide, is to capture 500,000 tons of carbon a year from his Tamil Nadu cement plant and supply it as raw material for other products. His company signed up with UK-based Carbon Clean Solutions Ltd on 19September 2019, for acquiring technology and operational services.
While signing the pact Aniruddha Sharma, CEO and co-founder of CCSL said “Decarbonizing the cement industry is absolutely key to reaching ‘net zero’ emissions. By combining our low-cost modular CO2 capture technology with viable CO2 reuse alternatives, we plan to deliver a full solution to early movers like Dalmia Cement.”
Dalmia Cement’s 27 million ton capacity is spread across nine states and 12 manufacturing units. The company is a category leader in super-specialty cements used for oil well, railway sleepers and air strips and is the country’s largest producer of slag cement.
The company has taken on itself the onus of turning cement manufacturing to clean and green. It is trying to change the perception of consumers from seeing cement just as a commodity by organizing Craft Béton, an annual design fair in Delhi, for those who use cement in various forms.
Mr. Singhi serves as co-chair of the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) in India and is the Vice-President of Cement Manufacturer’s Association (CMA). He represented Indian business and cement sector during COP-23/22/21.
- Dalmia Cement is the only cement company in the world to be invited to speak at the Climate Action Summit of UN Secretary General on 23rdSeptember, 2019
- Lowest carbon footprint among cement companies globally
- First company to join EP 100 and RE 100
- Runs Craft Béton, a unique annual design fair, in Delhi
Excerpts of Mr. Singhi’s chat with Benedict Paramanand, Editor of SustainabilityNext, on the sidelines of the India Sustainability Leadership Summit 2019 in Mumbai. It was organized by TERI and Frost Sullivan. Sustainabilitynext was one of the media partners.
What’s your sustainability vision for Dalmia Cements
Our philosophy is lean and green, profitable and sustainable.
To be a leader in building materials and build pride in all our stakeholders.
Instill confidence among our employees that this firm will survive and thrive.
To create happy stakeholders.
More importantly, we believe in demonstrating what a leader can do. How he can pursue the philosophy of inclusiveness.
How are you demonstrating these beliefs?
We show how we care for the Planet Earth by significantly reducing our carbon footprint over a period of time. And by doing it we also show how we are able to increase our profit.
With our belief of ‘use less produce more’ we are able to bring down our CO2 emissions drastically. This is not just a claim. From 900 kg of CO2 emission per ton five years ago, we have brought it down to 500 kg per ton, making us as the most eco-friendly producer of cement in the world.
This translates into higher earnings per ton which is one of the highest in the industry.
Our motto is ‘Future Today.’ We want to take proactive steps to motivate all stakeholders including the media, government and consumers about dire need for eco-friendly solutions.
We also want to be a leader in the use of renewable energy. With cost of solar power per unit dropping from Rs. 8 per unit in 2015 to under Rs. 3 today, this seems possible. By 2030 we are aiming at a majority of our power needs to come from renewable energy sources. Our dependence on energy produced from coal will be almost nil.
We are also working on how to conserve minerals like limestone which is the primary source material for making cement.
We are exploring how to produce better cement using waste. We are today the biggest manufacturer of slag cement.
We will work towards creating awareness in India and around the world about the benefits of Green Cement.
You have good success managing water as well
We have invested a lot on water conservation and water harvesting around our plants. We are very happy that we are more or less 4.5 times water positive. If we consumer 100 liters we are giving back 450 liters.
This is creating a better relationship with communities.
You are very ambitious about using waste
There’s great scope for using plastic and municipal waste as fuel if it is properly segregated. This will reduce our dependence on oil.
We are promoting the polluter pays principle like it happens in the West and Japan. This has immense possibility in India. In this, the polluter pays us for using their waste. This will be a good source of revenue as well.
How will a future cement plant look, say in 2030?
It should be carbon neutral
- Consuming 100% renewable energy by 2030
- Avoid 100% fossil fuel instead use various types of waste
- Grow biomass and use it. Grow trees like bamboo in
aridland. It will also create employment
Biggestthing we have to do is capture CO2 from the process of de–carbonation. We want to offer our cement plant to demonstrate this to the world
- By 2030 we could be a 100 million ton company.
- Everywhere we are using science-based philosophy. This whole exerciser will make us a respected global citizen.
What do you want the Government to do today
Government should encourage captive power plants. They are not doing that for various reasons.
Should encourage energy plantations across the country in dry and arid lands.
Encourage CO2 capturing with new technologies and support entrepreneurs in this field.
Policies should be for making India a solutions provider as well not just solutions adaptor.
India has excellent intellectual capital. What it showed in IT, it can also show in cement and manufacturing.