Dilmah conducts many projects focused on various aspects related to the environment in order to offset the carbon produced either directly or indirectly during the principal operations being carried out at the head office at Peliyagoda ; for example reforestation activities taking place in the Eastern province through two projects known as ‘Greening Batticaloa’ and ‘Thoppigala Reforestation’.
As part of the Greening Batticaloa and Thoppigala Forestry Programme, about 200,000 trees have been planted in the Batticaloa region since 2011, and this project is expected to continue with 50,000 trees planted every year. Most of the forest cover in the Batticaloa region was damaged or destroyed during the 2004 tsunami and the vast areas were deforested due to development activities. Carbon sequestration potential is based on average net carbon storage in biomass and forest products. The cashew plants carbon sequestration potential extends to over 100 years with a rotation of 60 years on an average quality site with optimal climatic conditions is 37.4 tC/ha above an initial vegetation carbon baseline of 2.8 tC/ha (Sambane, 2005). 37.4 tonnes of carbon is equivalent to 136.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The above figure has been calculated using Nhambita carbon calculator model.
Other efforts in reducing our Carbon Footprint include renewable energy sources that are affirmed with the established the largest privately held solar power generating plant in Sri Lanka at its Peliyagoda premises aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. It is also engaged in promoting awareness initiatives for staff on energy conservation. Another example of renewable energy sourcing is seen in a solar water pump that has been installed at our sustainable agriculture centre at Moratuwa.
Our goal is to supply the entire farm with water using a drip irrigation system, which reduces the excess water wastage and completely eliminates our dependence on fossil-fuel powered energy for this purpose. More investments in renewable energy are being considered for a range of other projects which would provide an additional contribution to the company’s carbon offsetting targets. Moreover, carbon footprint estimation has been concluded pertaining to the operations of the Peliyagoda premises, while an energy audit is also being carried out in order to identify areas for enhancing environmental performance and efficiency. By running energy audits in parallel with studies regarding the carbon footprint it is expected that we would be able to see in which areas of the Peliyagoda office the energy consumption and release of carbon emissions do not justify the production value of the process which will in turn help streamline such processes and make it more efficient.
Right up till the deadline of 2017 the Peliyagoda office will be doing all it can to reduce current emission levels (both direct and indirect). Such an ambitious endeavour calls for reductions of all processes no matter how small they maybe. The competence of the in house mechanics have been quite crucial in making the machines run as efficiently as possible which has no doubt helped to keep the energy consumption as close as possible to the minimum energy requirement for these processes, we will also be looking at making more adjustments to these machines to bring the power consumption to even lower levels and would also be considering the purchase of newer more efficient machines as the old ones become redundant. Such activities will no doubt be important to cut the energy footprint significantly because the activity of running of the machines consumes the most amount of power at the site.
The second most energy intensive activity on the site happens to be the providing air conditioning to the site. Feasibility studies are currently ongoing to see the possibility of switching to solar thermal air-conditioning units which will replace the conventional air conditioning units.
A number of employees have been provided with staff transport to and from there residence to the Peliyagoda office, which has further removed the need for them to use their personal modes of transport and in turn reduced their individual contributions to the overall emissions for which the head office is responsible for.
Lighting which is important throughout the Peliyagoda office is mostly provided by fluorescent lights which have replaced conventional filament lights, feasibility studies are on the way to see whether the head office could take the next step which is to switch to LED lights which would further reduce the need to consume electricity.
All these endeavors are an effort in fulfilling the pledge undertaken by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando to make Dilmah Carbon Neutral by the year 2017 and a commitment of an annual expenditure of 1 Million USD for nature conservation and community upliftment programmes.