Investing money in implementing sustainable solutions is the long-term direction, responsibility and benefit of many businesses, including Vinamilk.
|Vinamilk methodically invests in solutions for sustainable development
One of the top concerns for business leaders in implementing sustainable strategies is the expense. As a business that has recorded many milestones in sustainable development, Le Thanh Liem, executive director of Finance of Vietnam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk), outlined the company's vision, at the 2023 Sustainable Development Conference organised by Vietnam Investment Review last week.
“20 years ago, the actions that Vinamilk took at that time were only legally compliant, for example building a wastewater treatment system and building a deodorisation system. At that time, Vinamilk did not think of those activities as environmental, social, and governance (ESG), as to do such things, we still needed to invest a huge amount of money," Liem said.
In recent years, with the cooperation and direction of the government, the participation of the business community and all people as well as partners, ESG issues have become more popular. Businesses are also gradually spending a large amount of money to invest in sustainable development and the goal of achieving net-zero.
“Vinamilk's board of directors determines that sustainable development or moving towards net-zero is a long road and must have a specific roadmap. Once we have that, we can build resources and allocate reasonable funds for investment. Certainly, in the first years of change, these investments are more costly. Currently, Vinamilk is building a rooftop solar power system at its farms and factories, but the initial investment cost is quite high. The truck and forklift system are also gradually being replaced by EVs, which also costs a lot of investment capital,” Liem said.
“However, the fortunate thing is that these investments are still under Vinamilk's control. The investment is not a problem of one or two years but is the long-term direction, responsibility and benefit of the business. If we don't invest now, Vinamilk’s image in the next five to seven years will be very different," he added.
Sharing his experience in implementing sustainable development strategies, he said that the company operated in two segments, namely livestock farming and production, which had different characteristics.
“In the livestock sector, Vinamilk has a system of more than 14 farms spread across the country. The cows produce a large amount of waste, forcing them to have a treatment plan. Accordingly, the entire wastewater and manure system are taken to a biogas circulation system to generate energy, combined with a solar power system. Farms set aside quite a large area for material area. For example, the farm in Tay Ninh is 680 hectares wide, 500ha is the area for growing trees and grass for cows. Growing plants is an activity that helps neutralise the carbon of livestock farming activities," Liem said
Packaging is also another concern. Vinamilk's products are diverse, using plastic, paper, and tin packaging. Thus, with all such types of packaging, the company actively discusses with suppliers to use environmentally friendly packaging, which can be recyclable. The transformation cannot be completed 100 per cent immediately, but the company has developed a five-year implementation plan.
“Another difficulty is measuring indicators for statistics, evaluation and reporting, which are basis to evaluate the investment efficiency, as well as ensuring transparency and objectivity. We are working with an international organisation that provides a software system that connects directly to serve the measurement and statistics, from which we have specific reports for improvement work. We are gradually accompanying our partners to overcome the lack of data and reports,” Liem said.
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