From ‘Grey to Green,’ the initiative started in 2008 as a response to the challenge of climate change by Tata Companies, has germinated in a new form.

Tata Chemicals has deployed German-designed and patented Lupa bulkers to help reduce carbon footprint and curb the usage of plastic bags for packaging.

A part of the $83.5-billion Tata Group, Tata Chemicals is looking at harnessing the fruits of science for goals that go beyond business. For the world’s second-largest producer of soda ash, it is chemistry with a conscience. The green supply chain strategy for soda ash is the first for any chemical company in India.

Tata Chemicals will ensure that the transportation of loose soda ash is undertaken by Lupa bulkers worth Rs 45 lakh.

Specially designed bulk freighters

The bulk freighters are specially designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo and are mounted on trucks. It is a vessel used to load and unload cargo through air pressure. Soda ash is transported worldwide in loose conditions.

“The significance of this bulker is that it primarily helps to reduce Co2 emissions as the use of plastic bags are avoided altogether,” said a company representative.

The bulker is already in operation at Tata Chemicals’ Mithapur plant in Gujarat. Each bulker has an approximate capacity of 25 tonnes and can replace three million plastic bags each year.

The company plans to incorporate 10 more bulkers in FY12-13.

Though it brings on ease of operation, with a pressurised discharge and no possibility of contamination, it is also cost effective and economical in a limited radius to the supplier and receiver.

Meher Hermanns, which is present in India for the last 12 years, makes the Lupa bulkers. The company is an Indian arm of Hermanns Silo GmbH, Germany.

The company’s comprehensive international structure tackles bulk material handling.

Typically in the chemicals industry, most bulk chemicals are transported in a packed form, whereas some of the liquid chemicals are transported in tankers. “In the near-term, we are targeting 1,50,000 mt of movement of soda ash by bulkers which will help in Co2 reduction, since there will be no usage of plastic bags and material handling equipment. We are also planning other alternate and innovative modes for long distance bulk movement of soda ash,” said Zarir Langrana, COO, Tata Chemicals.

Tata Chemicals is working on long-term sustainability goals with annual targets. On carbon footprint, the goal is to achieve 20 per cent reduction in carbon intensity of its products by 2020.

(This article was published on August 2, 2012)
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