10 ways that Woolies is walking the water talk | WWF South Africa

10 ways that Woolies is walking the water talk

Posted on 12 December 2017
Woolworths' head office in Cape Town
Woolworths' head office in Cape Town makes use of underground water
© Woolworths
Retailer Woolworths was one of the first companies to put up its hand up when WWF South Africa launched its #WatershedWednesday campaign. Here are 10 innovations the retailer has made to cut back on water use.

1. Real-time metering
Woolworths has installed real-time water metering at 77% of its stores across South Africa and in Africa – and is thus able to monitor 95% of its total water usage.

2. Design thinking
Before opening a new store they factor in the most efficient way to use water efficiently. As much water as possible is kept on site for re-use via recycled and grey-water systems and rain water is used for irrigation were possible. This has helped Woolworths decrease relative water use in stores by 56% in the last 10 years.

3. Underground water at HQ
The Woolworths head office in central Cape Town straddles an underground water supply running off Table Mountain. With permission from the City of Cape Town, they have invested in their own treatment plant for use in the building. This saves the municipality some 17 million litres of water a year!

4. Catch what you can
At their distribution centres, they use rainwater harvesting and condensate reuse systems to collect water for activities such as tray and floor washing as well as to flush toilets.

5. Farming for the Future
Through programmes like Farming for the Future, Woolworths engages with farmers to reduce water wastage and pollution. They also encourage farmers to improve soil quality which in turn increases water retention, and they promote more efficient irrigation techniques, minimal use of pesticides and fertilisers and improved quality of wastewater on farms.

6. Catchment care
Woolworths, Marks & Spencer and WWF South Africa have joined hands to work on a water stewardship project in the Breede catchment area of the Western Cape, which helps stone fruit farmers to band together to reduce the risks related to water availability and quality.

7. Clearing out the aliens
Invasive alien vegetation soaks up huge amounts of water. Woolworths has been helping to clear the Leeu River catchment area and also alien vegetation on the farm of wine supplier Paul Cluver. It’s estimated that over 7% of South Africa’s water is being lost to water-hungry invasive vegetation. A spin-off of this work is job creation and economic empowerment.

8. Product life cycle assessments
Understanding the life cycle of key products is helping Woolworths to identify water usage and impacts across the value chain and prioritise improvements. Life cycle assessments have already been done on key products such as milk, beef and t-shirts.

9. Strict standards
All fabric suppliers for Woolies clothing are expected to adhere to very strict standards when it comes to dyes, materials and chemicals so as to limit the risk of water pollution.

10. Making a Difference
The Making a Difference education programme supports water awareness by providing curriculum-based learning content on the subject. They also donate water tanks to under-resourced schools through an annual schools competition.

Clearly Woolworths is stepping up to the plate to save water and promote water awareness. Tell us what your company is doing in this space and enter our #BucketList Challenge. For more information on how to enter visit the web page and give us your winning ideas.
Woolworths' head office in Cape Town
Woolworths' head office in Cape Town makes use of underground water
© Woolworths Enlarge