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Tobacco giant pursues green growth

By Phong Van   January 19, 2022 | 11:45 pm PT
The circular economy model helps production and business activities develop sustainably and creates added value ​​in the community, said a representative of British American Tobacco (BAT).

A sustainability model

Vietnam has been integrating more and more deeply into the global economy through free trade agreements that include provisions on sustainable development and oblige all parties to comply with emissions standards.

These constraints are also consistent with the contents mentioned in the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the period 2015-2030 that Vietnam and its businesses are pursuing.

These include eradicating hunger, ensuring food security and improving nutrition, developing sustainable agriculture, ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns, and promoting long-term, inclusive and sustainable economic growth as well as productive and good work for all.

Gia Lai as example

Currently, 90 percent of tobacco plantations in Gia Lai is invested in by businesses following the cooperation model with the participation of enterprises, farmers, authorities and scientists. Vietnam Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba) is working with joint venture partners like British American Tobacco (BAT) to support farmers through seed investment (creation of new varieties with high yields), investment in fertilizers, agricultural mechanization (from gardening to irrigation), and organizing technical training for farmers to show them how to tend to their crops for the best quality and highest productivity.

BAT’s Leaf development program helps local farmers to increase their incomes. Photo by BAT

BAT’s leaf development program helps local farmers increase their incomes. Photo by BAT

Besides, the Vinataba-BAT joint venture is interested in conserving biodiversity, saving irrigation water, protecting forests, and committing to not using natural forest firewood, while improving soil fertility, managing energy, and reducing water pollution in their plantations.

After more than 15 years of developing tobacco plantations in Vietnam, BAT has helped to provide incomes 30 percent higher than the investment norm, and now over 90 percent of farmers are attached to the industry since its inception.

In 2020, after 10 years of implementation, the use of BAT’s new hybrid varieties reached 54 percent. Meanwhile, the implementation of mechanization had helped save more than 20 percent of costs and labor for farmers.

Corporate circular economy

Pham Hung Anh Tuan, head of operations, BAT East Asia, said the application of circular economy principles needs to be adapted across the entire value chain, thereby providing opportunities for innovations and reducing overall environmental impact.

"Effective application of sustainability has helped BAT on a global scale to be continuously recognized on Dow Jones Sustainability Index and continuously recognized as a Diversity Leader by Financial Times," said Tuan.

In addition to these efforts to develop sustainable growing areas, the BAT-Vinataba tobacco joint venture factory in Bien Hoa (Dong Nai) has implemented a range of initiatives focused on sustainable production and consumption, such as reducing water use (2 percent per year) and collecting rainwater to use instead of source water, production wastewater being reused instead of being discharged into the environment.

Along with meeting the environmental A standard, the wastewater system at the BAT-Vinataba factory has been used for deodorizing and other water-saving activities. Kitchen waste, leaves, tobacco dust, sewage sludge, etc. are collected and transferred to the fertilizer production company.

Green growth numbers

Up to now, BAT's factories in Vietnam have completely switched to using biomass in the combustion boilers, contributing to increasing the rate of renewable energy use in Vietnam by the end of the third quarter of 2021 by 26 percent, doubling the plan set out for the year.

A total 100 percent of lighting systems in factories have switched to LEDs, saving more than 40 percent of lighting energy compared to using conventional light bulbs.

Thanks to the activities, 2021 was the third year that BAT was honored on the list of the 100 Most Sustainable Companies (CSI) in Vietnam organized by VCCI-VBCSD.

Do Hoang Anh, Head of Legal & External Affairs, BAT East Asia Cluster, represents BAT in Vietnam to receive the certificate honoring BAT in the Top 100 sustainable companies in Vietnam. Photo by BAT

Do Hoang Anh, head of Legal & External Affairs, BAT East Asia Cluster, represents BAT in Vietnam to receive the certificate honoring BAT among the Top 100 sustainable companies in Vietnam. Photo by BAT

Towards 2025, BAT in Vietnam will continue to make efforts to achieve its sustainable development goals. BAT aims to eliminate all unnecessary single-use plastics in packaging, achieving an average recycling rate of 30 percent for all plastic packaging. All plastic packaging products will be recyclable, reused, or biodegradable so they are environmentally friendly. A total 100 percent of BAT plants, including in Vietnam, will have zero landfill waste and 95 percent of waste will be recycled.

As a member of the CSI organizing committee, Nguyen Quang Vinh, general secretary of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shared more about the Sustainable Business Index, developed by the VCCI and leading domestic and international experts to provide the community with an effective management tool and a measure to evaluate the level of sustainable development regarding aspects of the economy, society and environmental protection of enterprises.

"We acknowledge BAT's contributions to the sustainable development of Vietnam over the years in terms of environment, society and corporate governance," said Vinh.

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