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What manufacturers can do to restore our environment

By John Musunga | June 5th 2021
A river passing through a section of Maasai Mau Forest in Narok [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Our planet has been in crisis for long. The growing climate emergency threatens not the future of humanity and the entire planet.

It could get worse. Emissions and pollution left unchecked, are projected to contribute to an additional temperature increase of two degrees Celsius by 2050.

According to science, we have a relatively short window to curtail carbon emissions and stand a chance to reverse adverse climate change effects and prevent global temperatures from rising further.

Scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. This is according to a 2018 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We must therefore act with urgency and make bold commitments towards environmental sustainability. World Environment Day, celebrated today annually, is a constant reminder that we should not tire in our efforts to encourage awareness and action for the environment. It is also an opportune time for us to reflect and strategise on how we can forge a way forward towards a better future for our planet. How can our generation restore the environment?

Governments cannot solve it alone. We each carry a responsibility to preserve our environment by being sustainable in the way we use our resources. However, some of us have a greater responsibility.

The manufacturing sector for instance, relies heavily on natural resources, among them water, used for production and cooling among others. It’s also one of the scarce commodities on this side of the Sahara and it would be a great disservice if we don’t restore this resource by replenishing more water than we use.

The good news is we are also the ones that have the biggest impact on climate action, accounting for 60 per cent of emissions cuts by 2030. For this to happen, environmental sustainability needs to be at the core of our businesses.

For instance, manufacturers can commit to cut our carbon emissions, replenish the resources we use, manage our waste better, and empower the rest of our value chain to do the same, thus accelerating the sector’s journey towards running sustainable business, which will eventually restore the degraded landscapes.

Now is the time for companies to be part of the solution, and act responsibly. We must be cognizant of our responsibility as a local manufacturer and employer in Africa, to grow our business sustainably and provide sustainable solutions for our local supply chains. 

We stand to gain from more resilient communities and reliable access to natural resources. By helping drive progress toward these outcomes, we will continue creating shared value. Moreover, sustainability in business isn’t just good for the environment or society at large, it’s also good for the business itself. “Greening” your business takes an initial investment, but, over time, you will save more money by prioritising sustainability. 

At Kenya Breweries Limited, our environmental goals include preserving water for life by putting back more water than we use in water-stressed areas and leading collective action in critical water basins; accelerating to a low-carbon future by becoming carbon neutral in our direct operations and becoming sustainable by design to enable us to provide decent work and promote economic growth.

We recently announced a Sh22 billion environmental investment to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change. This will help us reduce our carbon emission by 95 per cent through use of biomass and leverage solar for a tenth of our power needs. 

This demonstrates our commitment to pioneer grain-to-glass sustainability and to positively impact the communities in which we work, source, and sell.

In the words of the late Professor Wangari Maathai: “We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.” 

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Everyone must play their role to restore the environment
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Let’s protect biodiversity from lurking dangers
As we celebrate World Environment Day today, with the theme “ecosystem restoration”, more emphasis need to be put on protecting forests.