Sustainability - a vital trend in modern agriculture: PAN’s CEO Nguyễn Thị Trà My

May 31, 2023 - 11:58
Nguyễn Thị Trà My, CEO of The PAN Group, said that the group targeted reducing emissions, especially greenhouse gas emissions as one of the key tasks in its sustainable development goals.
Nguyễn Thị Trà My, CEO of The PAN Group. — Photo courtesy of the group

Nguyễn Thị Trà My, CEO of The PAN Group, said that the group targeted reducing emissions, especially greenhouse gas emissions as one of the key tasks in its sustainable development goals.

Greenhouse gas emissions in Việt Nam have increased significantly in recent years due to economic development and population growth. Following the global trend, the Vietnamese Government has been taking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

The Government's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions requires the participation of businesses and also puts them in a challenge called “sustainability”. Nguyễn Thị Trà My shared about this challenge.

In 2022, after COP 26, the Vietnamese Government issued Decree 06/2022/NĐ-CP and Decision 01/2022/TTg, requiring enterprises to carry out greenhouse gas Inventory and Inventory Verification; together with the greenhouse gas emission reduction plan and greenhouse gas emission reduction appraisal. Accordingly, agricultural enterprises are one of the subjects required to implement the roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What problems will the PAN Group need to solve?

Specifically, the Government's Decree 06/2022/NĐ-CP set requirements for enterprises to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Decision 01/2022/QĐ-TTg also provides a list of units that need to perform this obligation.

According to Decision 01/2022, more than 1,900 facilities with annual emissions of over 3,000 tonnes of CO2 must conduct a greenhouse gas inventory in 2023. The inventory results will be appraised from 2024 to 2026, and these facilities need to submit a roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2026.

Some businesses and units in the agri-food sector are listed in Decision 01/2022 and this list will be updated next time which is expected to be issued in 2024. This would include enterprises that emit less than 3,000 tonnes of CO2. The PAN Group currently does not have member companies required to carry out a greenhouse gas inventory. However, as an enterprise operating in the fields of agriculture and food, PAN certainly does not ignore concerns about environmental and social issues. We have a plan and are in the process of developing a roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2024.

PAN has products exported to many markets around the world. In addition to regulations from the Vietnamese Government, do members of the PAN Group have to face "pressure" from international customers?

This is unavoidable. International customers, especially from high-end markets like the EU, are demanding the publication of a Carbon Footprint or climate stamp on each seafood product. They are increasing awareness and raising the importance of Carbon Footprint publication, through a number of specific requirements such as Fisheries Control Regulations, requirements for catch certification or re-export of imported seafood products and promoting the Carbon Footprint notice on products.

For example, UK’s supermarket chain Tesco is committed to disclosing the Carbon Footprint of all seafood products it sells, including imported products. This requires our members such as FMC and KAF – Tesco's suppliers – to meet the requirements and perform a Carbon Footprint inventory of exported products.

In particular, on the issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, what role do you think businesses play in putting these efforts into practical actions?

I believe that businesses, especially leading enterprises in the industry, must play a pioneering role and be the most important factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the impact of climate change. Solutions for technological innovation, transition to renewable energy, supply chain management, promotion of sustainable consumption need to be worked on. It is not because of regulations from the Government or requests from customers that we realise sustainable development. At PAN, that is the strategic direction from the first day and is always updated according to the latest trends, the hottest concerns from the domestic and international markets. I believe that sustainability and being environmentally friendly is the inevitable trend of modern agriculture.

How will the roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions be conducted at PAN?

Currently, we are monitoring the status of greenhouse gas inventory and reporting at member companies, assessing the ability to build their own inventory and reporting systems, and providing the necessary technical assistance. The correct implementation of this requirement not only ensures regulatory compliance, but also helps PAN maintain relationships with customers and achieve sustainable development.

We have built a consistent and systematic sustainable development management system throughout, from the Board of Directors to the member companies. A subcommittee on sustainable development was established under the direct supervision of the Board of Directors and I am the head of the subcommittee. I also believe that PAN is one of the few enterprises with an independent sustainable development department.

With the characteristics of an ecosystem including many member companies operating in different fields, in order to be able to consistently deploy the sustainable development strategy from the group to each company, PAN has built a strict training and compliance supervision system. Every year, the group organises an annual social-environmental assessment programme to promote compliance and improve the system towards full conformity with international standards.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the key tasks included in the group's sustainable development strategy. Currently, we are in the process of developing a roadmap to inventory and reduce emissions at each member company. Accordingly, each company will have its own roadmap in accordance with the characteristics of production and business and their applicable conditions. The group will not apply a common framework for the whole system but have a flexible mechanism for each member.

In fact, from 2020 before there were specific regulations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, PAN launched the project "Silvicultural life source", which set a target of planting one million trees by 2030 to increase the cover area, protect the land environment and create many livelihood opportunities for local people. The project has planted nearly 400,000 trees on a total area of more than 1,200ha in eight provinces and cities across the country so far.

We are also gradually transforming the use of solar energy in factories and production facilities, and especially step-by-step implementing the circular economy model.

Shrimp shells and heads are used to produce chitin and chitosan which are an important input for both agriculture, food and medicine. — Photo courtesy of the firm

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, when it comes to circular economy, there is a view that 45 per cent of the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved thanks to circular economy solutions. How has the group implemented the circular economy model?

We have made use of most of our resources and minimised our impact on the environment. For example, pangasius’s by-products are used to extract oil and make animal feed, and wastewater from the factory is treated and reused on site.

Shrimp shells and heads are used to produce chitin and chitosan which are an important input for both agriculture, food and medicine. Lafooco's cashew nut shells are both reused as raw materials for drying kilns, and pressed for essential oils to be used as fuels and film-forming agents for the production of marine paints or other pressing and heat-resistant materials.

Even the fish residue is reused as fertiliser. By-products from rice mills such as rice husks are also reused on site as fuel for drying kilns while broken rice and rice bran are sold to food and alcohol processing producers.

Even confectionery by-products are reused for animal feed. The packaging is designed that users can reuse it for many different purposes such as household items, children's toys.

In addition, all wastewater and emissions from the group's factories and production facilities are treated to either reuse on-site, or return safely to the environment.

With the strategy of increasing the use of green energy, our member companies such as Vinaseed, PAN Food and Bibica have installed rooftop solar power systems for factories in areas with high radiation. This system significantly reduces electricity costs and contributes to reducing CO2 emissions into the environment.

I can confirm that the circular economy is not a luxury thing, but in fact has been bringing practical benefits to us every day.