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How Duravit and Shalimar Paints are Inculcating Green Values in Business

German sanitaryware and bath fittings behemoth Duravit, and homegrown paints major Shalimar Paints have emerged as cheerleaders for environmental sustainability in their respective fields. Both have been driving their businesses by designing and rolling out eco-friendly products: Duravit’s water-efficient range and Shalimar’s low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emitting paints are at the frontline of ‘green’ deals for customers. SH spoke to leaders at these corporates to understand what sustainability meant to them, and how their businesses were shaping up in response to this imperative.

By Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee

Sandeep Soni, GM – engineering & admin, Duravit India

What does sustainability mean to you?
The sustainability of a product is not a matter of chance; instead, it is decided well in advance, at the product development stage. This is why, for decades, Duravit has been investing a considerable amount of time, money and energy in research and development – an investment that pays off later for the company, users and the environment. At Duravit, the selection and purchase of materials and components are subject to strict ecological and economic requirements. We also insist that our procurement partners are as sensitive towards sustainability as we are. We are an ISO 500001 organisation, and every step in our supply chain is part of our environment-friendly standard operating procedure (SOP).

How important is the ‘sustainability’ plank for your business?
With water-saving products, intelligent technology and exemplary production processes, Duravit is the natural partner for eco-intelligent design. By introducing waterless urinal and toilet with 4.5 litres flush, we are conquering the market where environment-conscious users

How are you integrating marketing and branding with sustainability?
We are very sensitive about the environment and natural resources. For example, the production process of our global catalogues is PEFC-certified; from wood procured from sustainably-managed forests to environment-friendly printing processes. For our showroom branding, we never opt for solvent printing or material which is not bio-degradable.

How are you pursuing sustainability in your organisation and externally?
Earth’s natural resources are available in limited quantities. As the global population continues to rise, the need for sustainable concepts to conserve the ecosystem is also increasing. Duravit was and is aware of this responsibility. Neither Duravit nor its designers – renowned for their work, each one of them – are interested in ‘design for design’s sake’. This is because good design is not just about looks, but equally about practicality and sustainability. This applies to the materials used, their environment-friendly production and design. After all, who wants a design that comes with an expiry date? This is why Duravit develops and offers timelessly modern forms for all its products and ranges rather than following fashion trends. For example, with the Starck 1 range, designer Philippe Starck and Duravit have gone back to the beginnings of hygiene, body care and wellness. The range also describes the evolution of the bathroom. The toilet, bathtub and washbasin have descended from their historical predecessors, namely the bucket, tub and washbowl, even though they have been completely reinterpreted. And because something this good does not have to be optimised, the products in the range – ceramics, furniture, shower trays, bathtubs and accessories – have not been changed since their initial market launch in 1994.

What tangible benefits are you deriving from sustainability?
First is energy. With close monitoring and corrective actions, we can reduce energy consumption. From 2013 to till now, we achieved a 30% reduction in power, 37% in gas and 45% in water consumption.
We do not have employees; they are our family members. All of them are very well taken care of as in a family. Apart from basic laws, they are supported by many facilities and training for their personal and professional growth, their social and personal development. This approach allows us to enjoy long term associations with our employees.

Minal Srivastava, VP – growth, strategy & marketing, Shalimar Paints

What does sustainability mean to you?
Paint products often use raw materials and ingredients that are hazardous to the environment and also emit unpleasant odours and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). People using products with high volumes of VOCs, as well as those in the vicinity of usage, are exposed to very high pollutant levels – something that has adverse effects on their health in the short and long term. These effects can be mild, like minor irritation in the eyes, throat, nose or skin, or a major burning sensation. Headaches, nausea and dizziness can also result from exposure to the chemicals in conventional paints. What’s more, elevated concentrations of VOCs can persist in the air long after the activity is completed. This is the main reason why painting instructions advise that you only work in well-ventilated areas.
In the past few years, the focus of leading industry players has been on the development of a new range of environment-friendly, non-toxic paints that are specially designed to have lower levels of VOCs. Since eco-friendly paints are low in VOC chemicals, they’re much safer to use. The aim is to reinvent paints so that such severe implications for the environment and individual can be prevented.

How important is ‘sustainability’ plank for your business growth?
The industry is shifting to low/zero VOC paints, as paints manufacturers are becoming more environment-conscious. At the same time, consumers are also becoming more aware of the benefits of low/zero VOC paints and are increasingly buying green-labelled products. Shalimar Paints has always been a socially responsible organisation with a strong commitment to creating a green and sustainable ecosystem for the generations to come. We are achieving this by manufacturing environment-friendly products and practices that are finding robust traction with our target consumers.

How are you integrating marketing and branding with sustainability?
Since Shalimar believes in creating a sustainable environment for future generations, we communicate this thought to the end-consumer as well as to other key stakeholders. We conduct branding exercises at various media touchpoints to spread awareness about the eco-friendly products in our portfolio amongst our target consumers. These campaigns are also designed to encourage Indians to be more socially responsible and take steps to nurture a sustainable and eco-friendly environment.

How are you pursuing sustainability in your organisation and externally?
Shalimar Paints was established in 1902, and it has 117 years of experience and expertise in providing high-quality coating solutions. From mining the best quality pigments to using the finest packaging for the paints, we are ensuring that every process goes to make our business sustainable and responsible.
As an organisation, we also comply with the highest environmental standards on paints, especially in the area of VOC content. We promote water-based substitutes actively through our website and other promotional activities. Our products like Signature, Superlac Advance, and Stay Clean interior emulsions are all GRIHA-certified.

What tangible benefits are you deriving from sustainability?
Our range of eco-friendly products brings multiple benefits to the table. These products are long-lasting and provide superior environmental performance. They also help in the creation of a culture of sustainability and improve our brand image in the market. Given how modern consumers are more conscious of their ecological footprint, it gives us a competitive advantage over products with higher VOC content levels.


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