UBL Accelerating Change Through Its Water Stewardship Initiatives

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National: At United Breweries, we recognise that inclusive growth is the key to long-term progress for all stakeholders. That is why we are making conscious efforts to put sustainability and responsibility at the front and centre of our operations. This is embedded in our CSR approach. We seek to identify the needs of the communities living in the vicinity of our breweries and work towards implementing various innovative projects that benefit both people and planet. Through our CSR commitments, we are raising the bar on water conservation and accelerating change to support the development of our co-communities. 

Water is a major focus area for UBL. We are taking conscious efforts towards creating a balance in the groundwater table between what we use and what we give back. Through innovative manufacturing practices we reduce our water usage and through our CSR initiatives we look beyond the walls of our breweries to improve water availability, quality, and accessibility in our co-communities. At our manufacturing unit in Chopanki, Rajasthan we have introduced two new concepts that help us reduce our water footprint. The first initiative is in our water treatment plant where we are recovering filter back wash water and post treatment recycled back in the brewery for auxiliary processes like cooling operations, conveyor lubrication, and housekeeping. Besides this we are also recovering steam/vapour condensate from boiler and Multiple Effect Evaporator which is recycled back for other utility services post treatment. Through these efforts we have reduced our freshwater consumption up to 28 percent (Feb 2023 vs 2020). This has helped us save ~440 KL of fresh water per day. 

Under CSR, we have worked with multiple reputed NGOs over the last decade to implement meaningful interventions in water stewardship, especially in water stressed areas. We have rejuvenated water bodies, installed rainwater harvesting structures, constructed ponds and borewells, provided access to safe drinking water, and created awareness around water management. In FY 22-23, we implemented 11 large water stewardship projects in states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Odisha spending more than 70 percent of our CSR budget touching the lives of over 1.5 lakh people.

One of the large water projects that we completed last year was Haritha Samruddhi implemented in 17 hamlets of the Pudussery Gram Panchayat, Palakkad, Kerala. The major initiatives under the project included water and soil conservation measures including rejuvenation of water bodies/structures where we restored 350 borewells, 10 open wells, installed 72 rooftop rainwater harvesting units, rejuvenated 19 ponds, constructed two check dams, 5000 water absorption trenches, 123 gully plugs, four sub-surface barriers, farm bunds in 100 acres of land and planted over 7000 trees. We also worked closely with farmers and trained them in climate resilient farming practices along with setting up 200 composting units, 500 nutrition gardens, two Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) thereby strengthening village institutions for local stewardship.

In this three-year long project, we positively impacted the lives of over 41,000 people and ushered a positive change in Pudussery Gram Panchayat. We witnessed a significant increase in availability of surface and groundwater, reduction in soil erosion, an improvement in green cover and biodiversity, growth in household income of the families and an overall development of social wellbeing in the region. 

One such story of change is of Yeshudas, a daily wage worker at Pudussery Village. He shares, “We were dependent on the Malampuzha pipeline for water, but since we are living in a hilly area the supply is not stable. When people living in the lower parts of the Gram Panchayat start storing water, the supply to our area reduces and eventually stops. UBL helped me install a rainwater harvesting system in my home. Now, even if we don’t get the pipeline water for a week, we have our own water tanks which help us sustain. I am a daily wage worker and earlier I had to miss work trying to arrange water for my family but because of this project we have enough water throughout the year.”

Over the last three years, we have touched the lives of 41,696 people through this project and ushered a positive change in Pudussery Gram Panchayat. We have witnessed a significant increase in availability of surface and groundwater, reduction in soil erosion, an improvement in green cover and biodiversity, growth in household income of the families and an overall development of social wellbeing in the region. 

At UBL, our aim is to continue driving more ambitious projects to support and sustain water resources and continue our water stewardship journey. We realise that since our operations span across the country, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to use our business as a positive force for change. We are thus committed to making a meaningful difference to the communities where we source, live, work and sell our products to drive impactful and sustainable change.