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How are retailers handling the Bengaluru water crisis?

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Mannu Mathew
Mannu Mathew
With over four years of experience, Mannu Mathew specializes in business journalism with a focus on technology, the retail sector, D2C, and E-commerce brands. He is working as the Assistant Editor for India Retailing and Images Retail Magazine.

A look at the approach some retailers are taking to sail through the ongoing water crisis in Bengaluru

New Delhi: As the water crisis in Silicon Valley of India rages on, retailers in the city have adopted different water conservation and preservation approaches and are making additional investments to deal with it, representatives of some Bengaluru brands and Malls told IndiaRetailing.

The city, a major IT and retail hub, is a magnet for talent from across the country. The city which houses over 1.4 crore people has been facing a severe shortage of water for the last couple of months.

Bengaluru is home to many D2C brands like Snitch, Rentmojo, Licious and e-commerce majors like Meesho, Flipkart, Myntra and Bigbasket.

The city continues to be a favourite for store launches, as per IndiaRetailing Insights with 17 new stores being opened there in the last quarter of the financial year (FY) 2023-24.

Retail is one of the prime consumers of water in commercial spaces like malls and restaurants, according to a blog by Hydropoint, a California-based smart water management solution. And the current crisis is compelling the fraternity to adopt different approaches.

This includes minimising water usage, especially in the food and beverages (F&B) sector, water treatment measures, reducing reliance on natural water resources, aerator installation, and regulated water pressure.

And they are meeting with success, said brand representatives.

“We strive to be a carbon-negative brand, and that commitment extends to water conservation efforts here in Bengaluru. A significant portion of our raw materials is treated at food processing facilities. The water used for this treatment is then recycled for further use,” said Biraja Rout, founder of Bigguys, a Bengaluru-based QSR chain.

Malls, one of the prime water consumers in any city, are also playing their part. “Initiatives like reduced tap pressure, aerator installation, implementation of spot cleaning, scheduled watering for gardening, reduced cleaning frequency, installation of supporting plates to cooling towers to prevent water spillage and temporary shutting down the main water body to reduce consumption further have all been some approaches that we adopted,” said Sunil Munshi, vice president (VP) Retail, Brigade Group, a Bengaluru based real estate company that has three malls in Bengaluru.

Munshi added that the above initiatives have helped the malls significantly reduce their weekly water consumption. These initiatives have been in the mall as part of the basic standard operating procedures, but with the water crisis, the mall has adopted a more intense look into these techniques to ensure its being followed properly.

E-commerce players based in the city are also taking measures to conserve water. This included initiatives like reduced water demand, usage of alternate water resources and water recharging.

Walmart-owned e-commerce giant Flipkart has successfully recycled over 67 million litres of wastewater in a year across four of its facilities in Rewari and Sanpka (Haryana), Ludhiana (Punjab) and Malur (Karnataka), a release by the company said.

According to media reports, the quick commerce platform Swiggy Instamart had recently partnered with Earth Fokus, a company offering water-saving solutions, to deliver water aerators to consumers in the city within 10 minutes.

Implementing these measures has added to expenses for all the players. “Approximately 5% of additional expenses in plumbing cost have been incurred for procuring aerators and installing supporting plates,” added Munshi of Brigade.

In addition to this, IndiaRetailing also reached out to certain companies that manage the fountains and water-related work in the malls. On conditions of anonymity, one person said “Water usage even in time of the crisis has not changed, although the water is reused, but there is no significant chain terms of conversation on that side.”

With sustained efforts, the brand representatives are hopeful that they will be able to sail through the crisis till June when rains arrive and wash away the water woes.

“We are exploring ways to reuse materials, reduce packaging costs and identify new technologies or ingredients that can be incorporated into our packaging. This vision involves a 360-degree approach where reusable products form the foundation and the resulting product itself is also reusable,” added Rout of Bigguys.

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