A constant supply of clean water is essential to our value chain, from the growing of commodities to the manufacture and sale of our products.


To maintain operations in areas where water remains a key risk regarding availability and quality, we must implement innovative ways to ensure we proactively mitigate against some of the negative impacts associated with our operations. At the same time, we must minimise the risk to our business. Understanding our water risk and impact is essential for the sustainability of our operations.

We have also established a systematic water management process across our operations and in the communities where we work.

We aim to:

  • Reduce water consumption, and manage wastewater across our operations and in our supply chain
  • Partner for collective action, research, and education with suppliers, farmers, academic institutions, community-based organisations, and bodies such as the WWF-SA and the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate
  • Create awareness among our employees, suppliers and customers, and in schools in our communities


The Group applies innovative solutions for monitoring and managing water consumption across our operations. With over 60% of all water consumed by stores in our direct operations (stores, distribution centres, and offices), this space has been one of our main focus points.

Using our internal green building protocols to facilitate water-efficient design, we have implemented technologies such as:

  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Water recycling
  • Use of alternate water supplies
  • Installation of air-cooled refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, based on commercial viability and their remaining useful lives
  • Dual-flush toilets
  • Timer taps on basins

In areas experiencing a shortage of water supply, we install backup water tanks on a needs basis.

Within the Group’s supply chain, water availability and quality impact the sourcing of our raw materials and the processing of finished products. We engage with our suppliers to implement innovative solutions in their operations to monitor and manage water usage through programmes such as Farming for the Future, water stewardship, and Factories of the Future.

Woolworths works with schools in impoverished communities, helping to educate children about the importance of water conservation, sanitation, and good hygiene. This is done through the Woolworths Making the Difference Programme, which aims to support education, health, and wellbeing of children at South African schools. Aligned to this, through the Woolies Water Fund we install water tanks at schools affected by drought, as well as those with inadequate infrastructure.

We are also participants in the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, an initiative that focuses on mobilising business leaders on water, sanitation, and meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Becoming a participant means that we have committed to continuous progress against six core elements of water stewardship, and to identify and manage our water risk.




More information on the focus area and our performance thereon can be found in our annual Good Business Journey Report


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