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Broad Group, Equity Bank ‘Sustainability Champions,’ Boston Consulting Group Says

Research by the Boston Consulting Group has named Broad Group, Equity Bank, Jain Irrigation Systems, Florida Ice & Farm and Shree Cement as its five “sustainability champions” in developing markets, putting resource management at the core of their business.

The report, Handle with Care: Resource Management as a Competitive Edge, says the growing global economy and population will continue to put pressure on natural resources, which means companies can expect soaring prices and scarcity.

Companies will increasingly need to manage the consumption of natural resources, both to minimize the consumption of scarce supplies (payback) and to reduce the damage to the larger ecosystem (putback), it says.

The report looks at how sustainability has become a strategic issue for the five champion companies.

In China, air conditioner manufacturer Broad Group relies on alternative technologies to reduce its reliance on natural resources, developing air conditioners that run on natural gas and are twice as efficient as conventional electric air conditioners, the report says. The company provides the majority of energy-efficient air conditioners in China and exports to nearly 70 countries.

Equity Bank pioneered a mobile banking system in Kenya, giving farmers access to outside financing so they can invest in the soil and farm more sustainably. In 15 years, the percentage of the Kenyan population participating in the banking system has increased from 6 to 35 percent, according to the report.

Jain Irrigation Systems has addressed the scarcity of water for small farmers in India with drip irrigation technology that is nearly as effective as conventional, large systems but cuts water usage by more than half. The company also educates its farmers by advising optimal fertilizer and pesticide ratios and offers a program that buys crops — offering a minimum price but ensuring that the entire crop is sold.

Costa Rica’s Florida Ice & Farm beverage company in 2008 began improving its water efficiency, going from 12.2 liters for each liter of beverage produced to 4.8 liters in 2011. The report says this is one of the lowest rates in the world. The company has set an ambitious target of 3.5 liters of water per liter of beverage, and is close to achieving its bold goal of becoming water-neutral, according to the report.

India’s Shree Cement was the first cement company in the world to be certified to the EN 16001 international energy-management standard, the precursor of ISO 50001. It achieved this certification by reducing its energy consumption though initiatives including a 46 MW “green” power plant that runs on waste heat from production processes, the report says. Shree also reuses waste products such as slag and fly ash as materials in its production processes.

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