Turning lights off switches on savings

Business award Runner-up: Pick n Pay Group

The large South African retailer has consistently supported green initiatives over the years and more recently has demonstrated how managing its in-store environmental impacts benefit bottom-line savings.

By reducing electricity usage across its operations by 20%, for example, has resulted in savings of up to R130-million. Electronic metering in stores sends electricity consumption data to head office, which informs the stores on how to save energy.

“Metering allows us to view and report centrally on our corporate electricity usage so that the store manager can see electricity usage in a specific store. Changes in electricity usage are monitored and action is taken by our regional operations teams,” said Bronwen Rohland, the group’s director for marketing and sustainability.

Using natural lighting in stores has reduced electricity usage and grocery warehouses also have internal lights with motion sensors as well as dimming and energy-saving lamps. It has reduced electricity usage by 50% in the warehouses. Solar energy is used for external lighting and signage at warehouses.

Rohland said staff had played a ­pivotal role in reducing electricity consumption at stores. “We have seen substantial savings due to reduced consumption in lights and minor power usage in stores. These savings are the direct results of everyday efforts by staff to turn off lights.”

The company continually communicates green efforts to employees through e-newsletters, in-store plasma screens in rest areas and canteens, a weekly sustainability in-store radio show and monthly video communication.

An operational sustainability steering committee keeps track and reviews the company’s sustainable business strategy. It focuses on significant impacts, risks and potential leverage and reports this data annually to the group’s board.

“Our environmental strategy is integrated into our core business strategy and performance management system. Action plans include green store development, energy, water and waste management, promoting consumer environmental responsibility, biodiversity partnerships and employee awareness programmes,” said Rohland.

The group has extended its green strategy to external business partners as well. “Increasing sustainability in our supply chain is a key focus for us. We were the first retailer to make a public commitment to stocking fair-trade products. We encourage and partner with suppliers that are more sustainable.”

“We would not exclude a supplier from supplying us if they were not green-conscious, but they still need to meet our ethical, safety and health requirements. We prefer to share our sustainability journey with our suppliers.”

The Greening judges commended the group’s long-term commitment to environmental improvement and its hands-on approach to making green business a reality.

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