Uzbekistan, Tashkent – AN Podrobno.uz. In the past decade, sustainability and adherence to ESG principles have become an important direction for large companies. Today, for industry leaders, such as, for example, BAT Uzbekistan, this is not just a tool for creating a positive image. For them, this is, first of all, an awareness of their responsibility for the future of the whole of society.
Caring for the environment, effective corporate governance, social responsibility of employees and society as a whole make it possible not only to increase the attractiveness of shareholders, and in conditions of limited energy resources to improve production efficiency, but most importantly, to make this world a better and more comfortable place.
For BAT Uzbekistan, the ESG agenda is a key component of the “A Better Tomorrow” strategy. Director of the Samarkand Cigarette Factory Pavel Vereshak told Podrobno.uz reporter about its implementation.
The acronym ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) can be deciphered as “Environment, Social Policy and Corporate Governance”). This is a set of characteristics of the management of a company, in which the participation of this company in solving environmental, social and management problems is achieved.
Any industrial production that affects the environment. Tell us, what measures are being taken in your organization to increase the environmental friendliness of production?
– The environmental agenda is one of the most important areas of the activities of BAT Uzbekistan. In terms of its importance, it is on a par with issues such as satisfying consumer demand, reducing costs and increasing profits.
In this work, the company is guided by a five-year strategy to achieve key indicators in terms of energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, water consumption and waste management. The results are monitored monthly to adjust the action plans in case of deviations.
One of the directions of this work is the expansion of technical and technological capabilities. The company is investing in renewable energy, optimizing energy consumption of equipment and installing additional systems for measuring energy loss, drip irrigation and wastewater treatment plants.
For example, in the last two years alone, we have invested more than 2 billion sum in the installation of solar panels and solar collectors with a capacity of 180 kWh.
This year we intend to test the drip irrigation technology in the tobacco fields. As a result, based on previous studies, we plan to increase the yield per hectare by 20 percent and save up to 40 percent of the water used.
Also recently, BAT Uzbekistan joined the global campaign for carbon neutrality “Race to Zero” supported by the United Nations. The company has committed to setting scientific goals to achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2050.
This year, we plan to continue expanding our business relationships with both different environmental organizations and directly with green energy producers and waste recycling companies.
Reports from Greenbiz and the Institute for Sustainability by Enterprise Risk Management on sustainability trends and company priorities in 2022 “The State of Green Business” and “What’s Next for Sustainable Business?” Record the growing interest in the ESG agenda and integrating ESG principles into business strategies.
According to experts, the main trend in recent years has been an increase in commitments to achieve “net zero” emissions. According to the United Nations Race to Zero programme, these commitments in 2021 covered about 68% of the global economy, compared to 16% in 2019.
As of December 2021, most of the 30 largest companies across sectors (for example, 21 of the 30 largest oil and gas companies and all of the 30 largest banks in Europe, the United States and Canada) committed to carbon neutrality, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
– By the way, in recent years a lot has been said about waste treatment and disposal. What does Ozpat do in this direction?
“We set ourselves the goal of creating a vicious circle in which all waste is cleaned up and reused either as raw materials or as energy. Already today, a culture of waste sorting has been developed at all production sites and in the company’s offices.
Over the past few years, we have done a lot of work to find partners who can use our waste to reproduce. Paper and plastic are already being recycled. We compost household waste and tobacco, as a result of which we get natural fertilizers. Waste acetate fibers are used as pillow fillers.
Last year, we introduced a mechanism to collect and later dispose of used glo devices (tobacco heating systems) in accordance with all international standards.
Since December 2021, the Samarkand Cigarette Factory has not taken a single gram of waste to landfill! We are very proud of this achievement.
– There is an opinion that such investments do not bring material benefits. Can you give some examples of how ESG principles can help a company in business?
It is a big misconception to think that investing in ESG does not bring material benefits. Investments in renewable energy will pay off their costs very quickly, given that the prices of conventional energy resources have risen around the world over the past few months. In addition, they provide energy independence.
The same can be said about investments in technologies for reasonable water consumption – water purification and reuse, drip irrigation. With the increasing demand and limited water resources in our area, its value will grow from year to year. Competent waste management will allow you to get additional profit.
In addition, companies that care about the environment become more attractive to investors and have great potential to increase their sales. This is a global trend, many foreign partners are increasingly paying attention to the level of “maturity” of the enterprise in the field of ESG.
Of course, by investing in ESG, we are not only focused on making a profit. An important aspect here is the usual human desire to live and work in better conditions: breathe fresh air, drink clean water, see plants and animals around you, and not mountains of garbage. This is why we have set ourselves the task of not only being environmentally oriented, but also involving as much of our community as possible in this.
Do regular employees support the company’s environmental initiatives?
– In my opinion, creating an environmental culture within the company and among contractors’ employees is one of the most important areas of our work. Our main goal is the full participation of all employees in improving the environment at work and beyond.
Therefore, awareness programs are held for employees about environmental problems and how to solve them. In March of this year, we organized a big activity in the Zerefshan Reserve. More than 100 representatives of our company have planted more than 1000 trees on its territory.
Since this year, ESG indicators have been included in the personal tasks of all employees of the Samarkand plant. Their accomplishments will affect the annual performance appraisal and, in turn, the salary review ratio.
Researchers from Greenbiz and The SustainAbility Institute of ERM anticipate ESG’s shifts in the job market. Skills in ecosystem management, environmental policy and sustainable procurement will be in greatest demand. For designers and stylists, knowledge about sustainable fashion has become relevant, and for project managers – about the circular economy. A new role is emerging in companies – Circular Economy Development Manager. In total, according to the International Labor Organization, by 2030, 24 million jobs could be created in the global green economy.
The rising expectations in the social sector also require new competencies from human resource managers: they are expected to take initiatives to support diversity, equality and inclusion. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte in 2021, millennials and generation Z.
Does the state encourage these programs in some way?
“Based on this year’s results, we plan, jointly with the Agency for Alcohol, Tobacco Market Regulatory and Wine Industry Development, to apply for state subsidies for our farmers in order to increase the area of land on which drip irrigation will be applied.
– ESG is also the responsibility of its employees. How do you take care of those who work directly in production, collecting tobacco in the fields?
– This is not the first time that the company has been recognized as the “Best Employer of Uzbekistan”. This proves that UzBAT is doing a great job within its social policy.
Employees of the company are provided with voluntary medical insurance, transportation to and from work, curative and preventive nutrition, vouchers for sanatoriums, and for their children – New Year’s gifts and tickets for festive events, vouchers for camps, material assistance for the treatment of relatives, as well as an annual bonus.
Our employees have the opportunity to visit gyms, football fields and swimming pool free of charge. Outside the towers, towers can rely on service housing or rented housing. For potential employees, the company pays for training to improve their skills or acquire a new career.
What socially important projects are you supporting at the national level?
– Every year, more than 4 billion som is directed to various social projects – educational programs for the population, irrigation and access to drinking water, the improvement of Samarkand and Urgut, support for low-income families, war veterans and people with disabilities.
A portion of this money goes to charitable aid to the National Nature Conservation Parks, the restoration of historical monuments, and care in preparation for the East Tarunalari Music Festival.
– What, in your opinion, are government decisions or legislative norms necessary for Uzbekistan to accelerate the implementation of the principles of environmental, social and institutional governance?
– I think that industrial enterprises should be encouraged to invest in renewable energy sources. At the same time, different ways of realizing investments should be available.
For example, as an option, you can use the principle of purchasing I-REC certificates (www.irecstandard.org), which involves purchasing “green” energy directly from producers. This will allow them to invest the money they receive in developing the industry further.