The UK Department For International Development (DFID), in partnership with the National Business Initiative (NBI), a voluntary coalition of South African and multinational companies, committed to working towards sustainable growth and development in South Africa, is enabling corporates to provide their suppliers with free energy advice and assessments.

As part of this initiative, Woolworths engaged 150 of its suppliers to participate in energy audits, fully paid for by the NBI/DFID programme. Their progress to date has established them as one of the leading South African companies in this initiative. Val Geen, Head of Energy at the NBI states, “We are thrilled with Woolworths commitment and swift action on this campaign. It truly illustrates their determination to shape a sustainable future through business leadership and decisive action. Not only has it assisted us in reaching our Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) targets,” says Geen, “it is also the way to go if large companies recognise a role for themselves in promoting the sustainable development of SMEs.”  

Justin Smith, Woolworths Head of Sustainability adds, “The medium-sized suppliers will each undergo a free four day site survey carried out by skilled and experienced energy consultants to identify priority energy saving opportunities. The small suppliers will participate in a 1 day workshop on Energy Management and receive a free one day site survey carried out by skilled and experienced energy consultants to identify priority energy saving opportunities. 

The widespread energy audits are already underway, with a positive response from Woolworths suppliers. To date Woolworths has engaged 113 medium-sized suppliers to work with the NBI, including 24 clothing & textile, 16 general merchandise and 73 foods suppliers.  They have also engaged 58 small suppliers across various business units that include food, marketing, clothing and non-trade procurement.

Out of the medium-sized suppliers, 51 have commenced with paperwork and are working towards signing contracts, while 16 of the small suppliers have also begun a similar process. Five site surveys have been completed and four suppliers have participated via remote advice and guidance provided by workshops and telephone advice line.

Woolworths also participated in the Strategic Energy Management offering which entailed audits to review three Woolworths Distribution facilities, with the (PSEE) programme partially subsidising the assessments. Cape Town based Carbon and Energy Africa (Pty) Ltd (C&EA) completed the energy assessment of three distribution centres: Montague Gardens and Racecourse Gardens in Cape Town and Maxmead in Durban.

As a result of this process, an energy review report was compiled and presented to Woolworths with results and recommendations. Even with a significant focus on energy over a number of years, new savings opportunities were identified. As an example, for one of the new projects it was calculated that an initial investment of just R556 000 would translate into R14 million in savings over the next ten years.

Justin concludes, “Reducing the amount of energy we use is a key priority in Woolworths Good Business Journey.  This energy efficiency focus has had benefits from a cost saving and technological innovation perspective. We are happy to be in a position to partner with our suppliers on driving these efficiency opportunities through our supply chain, and have been heartened by their willingness to participate.”

The UK Department For International Development (DFID), in partnership with the National Business Initiative (NBI), a voluntary coalition of South African and multinational companies, committed to working towards sustainable growth and development in South Africa, is enabling corporates to provide their suppliers with free energy advice and assessments.