Sustainable business practices the way to go

Sustainability has increasingly become an important consideration for both business and society. Natural resources are in decline from overexploitation, climate change is amplifying existing weather and regional challenges and consumers are increasingly demanding accountability from the corporate sector.

Here in Kenya, the long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030, aims to transform Kenya into an industrial, middle-income country that is able to provide high standards of living to all its citizens in a clean and secure environment.

This vision weaves perfectly into all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the current Medium-Term Plan (2018 -2022) considering mainstreaming SDGs in performance contracting, actions plans, and sub-national County Integrated Development Plans.

SDG targets

In 2018, a policy gap analysis was carried out to assess the country’s preparedness to implement the 2030 agenda by elaborating how SDG targets align with the national planning framework. A multi-stakeholder inter-agency technical committee was set up to coordinate SDGs activities with a key focus on education, gender, agricultural productivity, and special funds for youth, women and persons with disabilities among others.

Examples of policies that have been developed so far include the National Environment Policy 2013, National Food Safety Policy, Public-Private Partnership Act 2021, Free Education Policy, Forest Policy, and the Kenya National e-Health Policy 2016-2030, inter alia.

These efforts demonstrate the government’s commitment to sustainable development and are tracking well in aligning the national development strategy to all the 17 SDGs.

However, despite these extensive measures, multiple sectors still lag behind in the implementation of these policies. The Voluntary National Report (VNR) 2021 proposed that in order to ensure complete and integrated implementation of the SDGs, active involvement of the private sector is required.

Business strategies

At Kenya Breweries Limited, we are an ecosystem accelerator that owns and believes in the need for sustainable business strategies. Our sustainability agenda is a commitment from every function of our business to be responsible and hold ourselves accountable to the communities we operate in.

As a company, we are aware that our everyday activities may have far-reaching economic, environmental and social impacts across our supply and value chains and as such we are keen to ensure that our future actions protect our planet and conserve and manage natural resources sustainably.

Recently, we launched our 10-year action plan dubbed ‘Society 2030’ – demonstrating our commitment to building a sustainable business. Our sustainability goals are underpinned by three major pillars: promoting positive drinking, championing inclusion and diversity, and pioneering grain-to-glass sustainability.

Under grain-to-glass sustainability, our initiatives include operational efficiencies in our production processes (water, energy, and waste management), environmental conservation, local sourcing, and sustainable packaging.

We have been particularly keen on environmental conservation through employing nature-based solutions to help mitigate the effects of climate change, which has seen us facilitate over 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the past two years.

We have done so through strategic investments and initiatives such as establishing biomass plants to replace heavy oil fuels. This will in turn reduce our annual carbon emissions by up to 95 per cent (about 34,000 tonnes).

Water stewardship is a longstanding strategic priority, and the company is focused on preserving this resource, particularly in water stressed areas. Our goal is to replenish 1.6 million cubic metres by 2026 across all our sites in Kenya. We have also been at the forefront of helping Kenya reach the 10 per cent forest cover target by 2030. We co-chair the National Environmental tree planting committee and have been instrumental in mobilising the private sector towards the goal of planting two billion trees. We have also planted and nurtured over 1.5 million trees in the last decade with a success rate of 85 per cent, consequently augmenting our carbon offset initiatives.  We hope to double that number by 2030.

In addition, we have been keen on preventing pollution through proper waste management, sustainable packaging, and adopting a circular economy. We have invested in a wastewater treatment plant to ensure that we return 100 per cent of wastewater from our operations back to the environment safely.

Recycling and reuse

Last but not least, we are constantly innovating, finding ways to optimise the production of our packaging materials, through methods such as light-weighting and increasing the recycling and re-use proportion. We use returnable glass to prevent contribution to the landfills problem.

In conclusion, I urge the private sector players to redefine their role in society and adopt sustainable business practices, for together we can achieve much more.

Let us remember the words of Theresa Cheung as we celebrate World Environment Day this year: “It is what you do that counts. The universe responds to your actions.”

 May our actions speak to bring positive change. Happy World Environment Day 2022!

 Mr Musunga is the Managing Director, Kenya Breweries Ltd.

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