Implementing sustainability practices is now creating real business value to organisations with robust programmes. The Woolworths’ Good Business Journey has ensured impressive savings of R270 million in 4 years, R222m in energy efficiency. Renewable energy prices have also fallen dramatically over the past years, and with rising electricity costs, it now makes financial sense. This is what was discussed at our recent Sustainability Forum hosted by KPMG.

Evan Rice, CEO of GreenCape provided an overview of GreenCape’s mandate to support the green economy. This includes helping organisations reduce energy usage though efficiencies; assisting private supply side companies with market access and opportunities in Africa; assessing skills development which has led to a wind turbine maintenance course with CPUT in 2015; and supporting access to finance. Evan spoke about their three focus areas:

Find out more from Evan’s GreenCape – Green Economy presentation.

Our next speaker was Justin Smith, Head of Sustainability at Woolworths who highlighted their extensive investment in sustainable practices. Justin described how Woolworths has embedded sustainability into the business by looking at:

  • Risk – what risks do they have across the supply chain i.e. labour strikes; extreme weather impacting on agriculture. One project they are involved in is the assessment of fresh milk in the Western Cape. South Africa is a water scarce country and it takes 520 – 2000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk.
  • Impact – understanding the global impact of what they do such as purchasing clothing from Bangladesh, palm oil from Indonesia, etc.
  • Measurement & Integration – putting hard measures into the balance scorecard and communicating across the business and to customers. With Woolworths’ purchase of David Jones, 45% of their turnover is now in Australia and they are also in 12 African countries which requires communication and co-ordination.
  • Partnerships – Woolworths has partnered with WWF to work with stone fruit farmers in the Breede River catchment area to address water scarcity and to ensure the consistent supply of fruit.  Marks & Spencer has said that the Western Cape is their single biggest global risk due to water insecurity.

Woolworths has reduced energy usage by 38% since 2004, saved R14m by by switching to electronic customer statements – see more in Woolworths’ Good Business Journey .

Media coverage of this event:  BDLive: Woolies energy use down 38%; Sake Rapport Online: Woolies besef water is n risiko; Sake Rapport Online: Banke nog nie by met sonkrag;  and in the Business Day and Sake Report print versions.