Unlocking a circular economy: Why the utilities sector can lead the way | HCLTech

Unlocking a circular economy: Why the utilities sector can lead the way
September 08, 2022

The circular economy model as a concept has begun to gain traction against the background of organizations wanting to become more responsible for the quality of the environment around them. This is driven by the principle of reducing pollution and attaining net-zero carbon emissions. Organizations are looking at ways in which manufacturing can be redesigned to decrease waste and pollution across the product value chain – a circular business model that moves away from the current take-make-waste model.  

For businesses, it is an opportunity to create value -- recycling and regenerating natural resources enables them to become more environment friendly while reducing waste helps to maximize value of materials and products. This separation of economic activity from the use of materials and energy not only addresses climate concerns but also builds resilience in the day-to-day operations of companies. Specifically, circularity establishes closed-loop cycles where waste is reduced or even removed and resources, including carbon, are reused. Such circularity helps businesses address pressing challenges around rationalizing operations and localizing supply chains.

The role of energy and utilities sectors in a circular economy

During the last ten years, it has become evident that companies in the energy and utility sectors have a considerable opportunity to advance a circular economy. One reason for this is the wide range of technological advancements they have access to. Examples include enhancements in material composition and hydrogen production.

Plus, adopting a circular economy model is particularly beneficial for energy and utility companies. Combined with the continued development of renewable energy sources, a circular economy can assist the sector in effectively handling long-standing problems related to enhancing efficiency and lowering the need for rare, raw resources.

To create such an economy, there needs to be a circular value chain where each stakeholder champions circularity. A circular value chain is an integrated and interactive ecosystem where every participant must actively focus on building cultures and skills that promote a collaborative system design centered on recognizing a community of interest. This community may include industry peers, ancillary industries, governments, and policymakers. All of them will participate in careful evaluation of the best way to design goals, standards, incentives, reporting measures, and other protocols. 

Obviously, not all players in the energy and utilities sectors aim toward a complete circularity. Some have much to gain from developing full-fledged circular business models. For others, who are based on a traditionally linear model, only some elements of circularity will be immediately relevant. Irrespective of this, the main objective for the sectors is to reach a widespread agreement that circularity principles provide an effective way to explore answers and find new sources of value. By integrating circular thinking into core strategies, companies will help produce powerful new perspectives as well as levers for efficiency and value creation.


Creating sustainable communities

HCLTech has always included sustainability principles and practices into the company's strategy, culture, and everyday operations. As we move toward a resilient future while creating long-term value, HCLTech has adopted an approach that incorporates several sustainability facets under its four priority areas – repay society, renew the ecosystem, redefine the workplace, and responsible business.


Global efforts

Along with promoting ethical waste management and energy efficiency, HCLTech is working to lower greenhouse gas emissions and its carbon footprint.

Between 2010 and 2020, the company reduced its per-person carbon footprint by 55.9%, increased the share of renewable energy in its energy consumption to 10.4% in FY20, and reduced per-person water consumption by 23.5% since 2013.

In addition to being a member of the United Nations Global Compact, HCLTech has also publicly endorsed the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), signed The Climate Pledge, and gained validation from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) as part of its ongoing efforts to lessen the company's impact on the environment.

The Climate Pledge is a pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions ten years before the Paris Agreement, in 2040. All greenhouse gases will be measured and reported, decarbonization measures will be implemented, and any new emissions will be offset under this commitment.

The lofty 1.5°C aligned targets outlined by HCLTech have been recognized and praised by the SBTi. Renewables will be the top priority on the path to net-zero by 2040, followed by energy efficiency and eco-efficiency. To help achieve these goals, there are also action plans for numerous nature-based sequestering projects.

By supporting TCFD, HCLTech joins more than 3000 firms worldwide who are showing a dedication to enhancing financial system resilience and reducing climate risk through better disclosures. Public and private organizations, such as national governments, central banks, stock exchanges, etc., are among these organizations.

Steps taken

The Shiv Nadar Foundation, an integral part of HCLTech, believes in creating sustainable communities that can transform lives through education so that people become self-reliant. Aligning themselves to the UNs sustainability goals, the Shiv Nadar Foundation is involved in various social and environmental initiatives that have helped transform many communities across India through its programs such as HCLTech Grant, HCLTech Uday, HCLTech Samuday, Clean Noida, Harit, Power of One, and Sports For Change.

2.14 million lives were improved by the 2011-founded HCL Foundation's approximately Rs 680 crore in investments. These efforts led to revitalization of 52,000 acres of land, establishment of sustainable community governance, rejuvenation of 82 water bodies, and protection of more than 18,000 animals.

HCLTech also believes that it is vital for employees to take time out and do their bit for society. ‘Power of One’, HCLTech’s employee-volunteering initiative powered by contributions from each employee, had clocked over 487,000 hours in volunteering till March 2020. While interacting with at least 6,600 children, teens, and adults in their communities through online teaching, training, skill-building, mentoring, and guidance sessions, 678 HCLTech employees have logged around 2,200 hours of digital volunteering since April 2020.

Making the green move

‘Taking the green route’ is not as easy as it sounds. Concerns over costs while changing or redesigning infrastructure, the complexity involved in the transition, and a lack of the right kind of solutions make the move to green very challenging for organizations. Thus, they look for partners and ecosystem support that can provide end-to-end sustainability solutions and services for a seamless transition.

HCLTech has proven expertise in providing services across the value chain, from the product ideation and design phase to end-of-life and sustenance. HCLTech offers completely customized services across all stages of the transformation journey - from strategizing, building, migrating, and deploying to sustaining and supporting the business. 

The digital engineering approach

We understand that digital engineering as a concept can provide a strong segue to create sustainable products and solutions. By using state-of-the-art technologies such as cloud, data, AI, IoT and 5G connectivity, along with digital platforms and digital commerce, we help customers make a smooth transition to ‘green’.

Customers can also drive sustainable innovations by accelerating the ‘time to market’ and ‘time to monetize’ of products and services and addressing the end-to-end product value chain across multiple product portfolios.




In what we do, the team at HCLTech hopes to optimize resources, reduce the consumption of raw materials, and recover waste by recycling or giving it a second life as a new product. This, in the long run, will help create more sustainable communities that are more self-reliant and efficient.

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