Better cotton and green chemistry in India
During his visit to India for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, Environment Minister Richard Benyon also visited sustainable businesses that protect the environment and operate profitably.
Visiting villages in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Benyon saw sustainable cotton production in action. Local cotton farmers here have united, with the help of the WWF and Marks and Spencer, to learn techniques to reduce levels of pesticides and water whilst increasing yields of sustainable cotton. Phase one of the WWF-supported project, launched in 2009, has already achieved significant reduction in water and pesticide use and increased profitability for over 6,000 farmers in Andhra Pradesh.
Marks and Spencer sources cotton from the farmers for products sold around the world under the “Better Cotton Initiative” label so customers know that their clothing purchases are giving farmers a better life and ensuring wildlife can flourish.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) addresses the current impacts of cotton production worldwide, promoting measurable improvements in the key environmental and social impacts of cotton cultivation worldwide to make it more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable. Since 2005, the BCI has been working with organisations from across the cotton supply chain and interested stakeholders to facilitate a solution for the mainstream cotton sector. The BCI’s philosophy is to develop a market for a new mainstream commodity: ‘Better Cotton’ and thereby transforms the cotton commodity to bring long-term benefits for the environment, farmers and other people dependent on cotton for their livelihood.
Mr Benyon outlined the benefits:
“This really shows the virtuous circle of a better income for farmers and a big win for wildlife. Meeting some of the farmers and seeing their cotton fields alive with birds and other wildlife was fascinating and emphasised for me just what we’re doing back at the conference to reverse the decline in global biodiversity. It really demonstrates that business and nature can thrive together to mutual benefit. It has been a huge pleasure to witness the partnership between India and the UK, generating green growth, jobs and prosperity on both sides of the world.”
Richard Benyon and the Deputy High Commissioner also visited Dr Reddy’s Bachupalli facility in Hyderabad, a leader in sustainable manufacturing initiatives in India. As an innovative and sustainable pharmaceuticals company, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is leading the way in ‘green chemistry’.
Dr Reddy’s is a zero discharge company which uses techniques such as recycling of waste and pollutants, and rainwater harvesting, benefiting the environment and contributing to the company’s bottom line by making its operation more efficient. The plant recycles 4KL of water every day, reducing its dependency on city water supplies, has five rainwater harvesting systems to recharge the ground water, and many energy conservation initiatives.
Accompanying Mr Benyon, Richard Hyde, Deputy High Commissioner, Hyderabad, said:
“In our visit to Dr Reddy’s and to the cotton plantations in Warangal we saw two excellent examples of partnership between the UK and India in promoting sustainable and profitable business. Mr Benyon highlighted the important role that business can play in helping to halt the decline of biodiversity around the world. Companies like Dr Reddy’s and Marks and Spencer have demonstrated that an ethical and sustainable approach can be profitable; that it is possible to do well by doing good.”
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd is a major investor in the UK including with manufacturing facilities in Slough and an R&D centre in Cambridge. Prime Minister David Cameron met the Chairman Dr Anji Reddy during his last visit to the Cambridge research centre. Dr Reddy’s has announced its third expansion in the UK in three years, with a new site in Mirfield creating jobs and harnessing British expertise to complement its successful and sustainable business model.
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