India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the rapid industrialization has led to a corresponding increase in generation of industrial waste, which if not disposed of carefully would lead to harmful implications for the environment. Quantity of hazardous waste generation in the country was around 7.17 million ton during 2016-17, of which only 3.68 million ton (49.46%) was recycled.
Tata Motors’ focus on waste management is aligned with the Waste Management Hierarchy as mandated in the national regulations; namely – *prevent/eliminate, *minimize, *reuse, *re-cycle, *energy / material recovery and *safe disposal. The company’s approach to waste management is centered on the utilization of waste and its diversion from landfill / incineration. Tata Motors’ plants are vertically integrated and carry out a range of manufacturing activities in-house which result into a wide variety of wastes, which are disposed in compliance with the regulatory requirements. Some Tata Motors’ plants have the option of co-processing hazardous waste – i.e. the utilization of high-calorific value wastes as fuel substitute in cement kilns, which is an effective route for energy / material recovery from hazardous waste.
Through improvements in manufacturing process, waste or scrap conversions and supply chain optimization, Tata Motors aims to reduce the environmental burden caused by landfill and incineration. In order to reduce the waste burden on landfills, TML has taken steps such as the conversion of paint sludge into secondary paints, which can be used in-house or in the supply chain for casting and frames. Additionally, some process modifications have been undertaken such as recovery and re-use of sealants instead of wiping off the excess, improved paint transfer efficiencies, reduced tank draining and scheduling color-wise painting operations leading to less frequent set-up changes. Tata Motors has also partnered with a National Research Institute for the utilization of ETP sludge in the manufacture of construction products such as paver blocks and bricks. The proposal is currently in the process of being validated by Regulatory agencies.
The ‘Value from Hazardous Waste’ initiative has resulted in savings of INR 20.20 Crore in FY’20 and avoided the disposal of 1976 MT of hazardous waste in FY20. To minimize use of flexible plastic packaging in its operations, the company is also working towards returnable packaging and is deploying this approach at suppliers’ sites as well. The company’s employees repurposed wooden pallets into 700 desks for students.
Tata Motors initiative ‘ProLife’, is the company’s pioneering after-market product support strategy for its Commercial Vehicle customers. The use of Tata Motors Prolife aggregate ensures original equipment-like vehicle performance even after the first lifecycle. The customer receives reconditioned aggregates in exchange for old aggregates. In FY 2019-20, an equivalent of 33615 engines were reused or recycled (up by 5% over the previous year) under the take-back programme. The ProLife business has maintained the energy consumption level at 58kWh per equivalent engine for remanufacturing since FY 2011-12.
All the efforts undertaken by the company are playing a pivotal role in driving TML towards the responsible future that the company has envisioned.