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Business Ethics and Sustainable Development by Adopting Life Cycle Assessment & Analysis Approach: A Case Study of TATA STEEL

The Challenges of fulfilling human development needs while protecting the environmental management and life support systems, many believes that science and technology must play a crucial role in sustainable development, yet little systematic and scientific ways exist on how to develop institute that effectively utilized science and technology for sustainable development.

Taking the right course stands for Business Ethics, this includes ethics in production, business processes & company’s behaviour. It is all about doing the right thing in everything the company does. The core value that is corporate code of ethics, direct the business activity towards respecting and safe-guarding the environment for economic efficiency, social stability and environmental accountability; these are the basics of sustainable development.

There are many more activities and practises that fosters sustainability of business and help organisation to move along the path from laggard to leader, it include the most important aspect of sustainable development that is Life Cycle Analysis and Assessment this holds health of climate change, biodiversity, prosperity and environmental & social equity.

Tata has following core values that define the ethics of the company: Integrity, Understanding, Excellence, Unity & Responsibility. These values are evident that it drives the ethical behaviour of company. With the help of few cases, the aim of presenting this paper is to understand how responsibility for tackling the challenges of sustainability as a Social Responsibility of corporate in the field of Ethics in production and R & D.


Ethics, Business Ethics, Environmental Management System, Life cycle Analysis


The world started with 1.6 billion of crowd at the 20th century. We have begun the 21st century with 6 billion people on the earth. This surprising increase in the world population places an unbearable pressure and burden on the natural environment. At the same time, the 20th century was gave new direction to the global economic progress than all the prior centuries together. Every human being of our planet wants the products and services of the new developed economies. While there is much debate about the ways to achieve progress without lowering and hampering environmental management system quality and quality of life, “sustainable development” is still a dream goal.

Sustainable Development need us to think the world as a one system-a system that thinks world as a global village; and a system that connects space and time.

When we think of the world as a system over space, we grow to know that air-polluting activity from North America leaves its impact on air quality in Asia, and those insecticides and pesticides utilized in Argentina could harm fish stocks of the Australian coast.

Moreover, when we think of the world as a system over time, we comes to realize that the decisions taken by our grandparents about how to farm the land without making any effect on agricultural practice today; and the economic policies we proposed today will have an impact on poverty when our children are adults.

We also realize that quality of human life is a system. It is better to be physically healthy and fit, but what if we are poor and don’t have exposure to education? It is good to have a secure and fixed income, but what if the air in our continent of the world is polluted and not suitable to breath? In addition, it is good to have freedom of our choice, but what if we can not feed our family with purity?

The aim of this paper is to study with help of few cases of TATA STEEL about the concept of sustainable development is rooted in this sort of systems thinking. It helps us understand ourselves and about the world. The problems we face are critical, complex and serious—and we can’t address them in the same way we created them. However, we can address them.

Conceptual Background

According to World Council for Economic Development (WCED) Sustainable Development is development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the future generations to meet their own needs.”

To foster business sustainability there are number of best practices organisation can follows such as

Ethics: To be able to do right things in the right way and must able to analyse what is right and what is wrong? While doing business activity every time and everywhere.

Ethics is the discipline dealing with moral duties and obligation, and explaining what is good or not good for others and for us.

Ethics is concerned with truth and justice, concerning a variety of aspects like the expectations of society, fair competition, public relations, social responsibilities and corporate behaviour.*

Business Ethics: Refers to a ‘code of conduct’ which businesspersons are expected to follow while dealing with others.*

Life Cycle Analysis: The organisation want to some forward steps must systematically analyse the environmental and social impact of product and procedure through Life Cycle Analysis, which calculate accurate impact

Objective of the Study

The object of this paper is to examine the need and importance of Business Ethics in Sustainable Development and evaluate the initiative taken by TATA STEEL Indian company and concern for Sustainable Development by using Life Cycle Analysis Approach in their core business values.

Research Methodology

This study based on secondary sources of information from various research publications, published newspapers, and conference publications online journals & magazines, web sites, and books. The information has collected from li braries and websites.

Review of Literature

Dr. A Ravi,R. Vandhana, Karpagavalli G. (Dec 2013) In his paper Green Marketing- A tool For Sustainable Development, this includes the need of creating awareness about eco- friendly products amongst consumers, companies become more responsible for manufacturing ecological product this approach make it a part of sustainable development. Miroslav Rusko , Dana Procházková, (2011) in his paper present Solution to the Problems of the Sustainable Development Management, Sustainability is permanent adaption to change, Sustainability considers the nature and human from the viewpoint of optimum development of the whole biosphere.

Charles A. Hopkins, Rosalyn Mckeown (1999) in the paper Education for Sustainable Development, this paper discuss about reorientation of education philosophy that include more knowledge, skills, perspectives, and values related to sustainability. For sustainable development education require vision and mission, with purposeful plan of action, resources, and continues efforts during implementation.

RISUS - Journal on Innovation and Sustainability (2013) This Paper emphasizing on reflections on how the Vision/Approach of Interdisciplinary Education help to build the attitude necessary towards a new global Ethics for sustainable development. Reverence for Life and space will lead to adopt Universal Ethical Principles. It has shown that this attitude is the result of inner transformation.

Arpad Horvath (1999) the title of study was Construction for Sustainable Development - A Research and Educational Agenda the paper expresses the need of engineering and management research benefit from a systems perspective, and from application of standard methods developed for environmentally-safe design, construction and management by other industries such as the electronics, electromechanical products, and the automobile sectors.

Case Study of Tata Steel

The Tata Steel definition of sustainability is ‘an enduring and balanced approach to economic activity, environmental responsibility and societal benefit’. Sustainability is about meeting the challenges of ensuring that future generations can enjoy the same kind of lifestyles people enjoy today. This naturally involves taking a long-term perspective on balancing economic, environmental and social impacts of business.

A commitment to ethical behaviour is often shown in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy of a business. Businesses are no longer judged solely on their ability to deliver goods and services but also on the manner of delivery and how they impact on society and the environment. The Tata Steel sustainability policy states that:

‘Our policy is to conduct our activities in relation to economic progress, social responsibility and environmental concerns in an integrated way in order to be more sustainable and to meet the expectations of our stakeholders.’

A commitment to environmentally-sound practices is part of many businesses’ commitment to act responsibly. Social responsibility refers to an organization’s obligations to maximize its long-term positive impacts and minimize its negative impacts on society. For Tata Steel, it is a core part of its vision to be ‘the global steel industry benchmark for value creation and corporate citizenship.’

Tata Steel is committed to tackling the challenges of sustainability. This means that it takes its responsibility towards both the environment and its communities seriously, balancing these against the need to make a profit. It has put systems in place to meet international standards for environmental management such as ISO14001.

Respecting and safe-guarding the environment is a central principle held by all Tata Group companies and can go hand-in-hand with profitable business.

Making Ethical and Sustainable Decisions

By Implementing the Life Cycle Analysis and Assesment

Tata Steel practice ethical and sustainable methods into all areas of its work. Steel has the advantage of being recyclable but is produced by a technical method that produces CO2 emissions. Sustainability is about more than CO2, but the major challenge of sustainability is to minimize or reduce CO2 emissions which contribute to climate change. Tata Steel is working to reduce these emissions using new technology and practices.

Case Study I: The Automotive Industry

A bigger part of the United Kingdom’s CO2 emissions release from cars, referred to as ‘tailpipe emissions’. The government has passed laws for the reduction in CO2 emissions. However, this only looks target car emissions in the ‘use’ phase, rather than those caused by manufacturing and scrapping vehicles. One way to reduce use-phase emissions is to make the car lighter as lighter weight cars use less fuel so CO2 Emission will minimize.

However materials such as Aluminium, Magnesium or Carbon-fiber reinforced plastics have high environmental costs in manufacturing and they are not as easy to recycle as steel. The savings made from using them are usually outweighed by the CO2 produced in the other life-cycle phases. Providing the whole life cycle of the material is taken into account (LCA) - not just the ‘use’ phase - steel has been shown to be the best material to decrease CO2 emissions of cars.

Outcome: Tata Steel has joined forces with other steel-makers to produce the ‘Future steel vehicle’ which showcases the latest advances in steel technology. Using its LCA studies, it is now influencing the next generation of legislation to move towards an LCA approach rather than just looking at ‘tailpipe’ emissions.

Case Study 2: The Construction Industry

Traditionally, timber was used for constructing frames for buildings but it was difficult to find trees large enough for bigger buildings. New technology means that timber can now be used for large buildings and with increased concerns about sustainability; there has been a revival in the use of timber frames for buildings such as supermarkets, warehouses and schools. Timber is perceived as being a sustainable and ‘green’ resource.

However, when Tata Steel looked at the LCA of timber in terms of where it came from and how it was recycled, it found that carbon emissions were similar to a typical steel framed building. How the timber is dealt with once the building is demolished was found to have a major impact on the overall sustainability of the building structure. Most timber from demolished buildings is either land-filled or incinerated. The final result shows that using a steel frame (where studies have shown that 99% is recycled) produces less CO2 over the entire life-cycle than using a timber frame.

Outcome: The results from the LCA study of building structures are being used to provide facts to architects, engineers and legislators regarding material choice.

Case Study 3: The Packaging Industry

Many consumer brands are keen to give an image of environmental responsibility. One way is to try to reduce packaging. It is an area where government regulators have a big influence too. The UK government’s goal is to reduce the carbon impact of grocery packaging by 10% by the end of 2012. One legislative approach to this is to reduce the total weight of packaging used.

However, LCA studies by Tata Steel have shown that focusing on weight reduction does not necessarily make for more sustainable packaging. Targets just on weight reduction could lead to the wrong decision, for example, to use alternative packaging materials that could take more energy to produce and are not always completely recycled when they are disposed of.

All steel cans that are collected are truly recycled. Steel does not downgrade when recycled. It can be re-used over and over again whereas other materials tend to be used only once and, even if recycled, will be used for alternative, lower-grade applications. When adopting the Tata Steel LCA approach, it is clear that steel cans, even though they may weigh more than some alternative packaging, provide a more sustainable packaging material.

Outcome: Tata Steel and its industry partners used their LCA approach to persuade regulators to take a different view on steel used in packaging. This resulted in national recycling targets taking a full life-cycle approach by using actual recycling rate as the measure, rather than reducing the total weight of cans.


Sustainable Development accounts for Economics, Environment and Well-being of human life means stands for profit, planet and people. Firm that are sustainable has an experience to attract and retain employees with less financial and reputation risk. Same firm are also more innovative and adaptive to their environment.

Commitment and systematic approach toward Environmental Management System and Life Cycle Analysis encourages the Sustainable Decision making to an ethically, and socially responsible firm. Laws, rules and regulations are made for well- being of human life and ecosystem but it is the responsibility of every corporate to follow the same rules laid down by home country regulatory and normative system. We have to strengthen the laws of corporate governance for sustainability. Life will become more meaningful if we keep our planet more beautiful


  1. Global Research Analysis, volume 2, issue 12, Dr. A Ravi,R. Vandhana, Karpagavalli G. (Dec 2013), Green Marketing- A tool For Sustainable
  3. Miroslav Rusko , Dana Procházková, (2011) Faculty Of Materials Science And Technology In Trnava Slovak University Of Technology In Bratislava number 31, 2011, Solution to the Problems of the Sustainable Development Management
  4. Charles Hopkins, Rosalyn Mckeown (1999) Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy. 1999. Vol.
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  6. RISUS - Journal on Innovation and Sustainability (2013) Christine Syrgiannis Volume 4, number 2 – 2013
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  8. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, Vol.2 Issue 4, April 2012, Page no. 1-8 V. Mohanasundaram, Green Marketing – Challenges And Opportunities
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  12. Summary of Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) 2012 Business Day 19 June 2012, Published By The International Institute For Sustainable Development (IISD)
  1. Three Essays on Sustainable Development by Andres Gomez-Lobo Kirk Hamilton and Carlos Eduardo Young The Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment University College London and University of East Anglia.

Authored by:

Prof. Vivek S. Kanade


M V P S’s, Commerce

Management and Comp. Sci. (CMCS) College

Prof. Pratiksha V. Pingale

M V P S’s, Commerce

Management and Comp. Sci. (CMCS) College

Tags: MET Institute of Management