Woolworths is the first South African retailer to recognise its suppliers for becoming more environmentally responsible. The award, launched in 2006, seeks to recognise suppliers who establish best practice in environmental management. Eco-efficiency is about doing more with less. It means optimising the use of resources, reducing the impact of the businesses on the environment, and increasing the value of products and services. Woolworths has been taking this very seriously for some time, and now encouraging suppliers to do the same. The annual eco-efficiency award salutes suppliers who demonstrate significant progress in some or all of the following areas: -Reducing the use of natural resources like water, energy and raw materials through improved production methods; -Managing effluent to minimise pollution; -Developing a programme that identifies and manages significant environmental impacts of the business; -Ensuring continual improvement through ongoing monitoring and review. Woolworths fruit supplier, Westfalia, took the Eco-efficiency award home in 2007. Westfalia have shown significant progress in reducing raw material wastage through efficient waste management practises. The company also works hard to conserve energy and water. Soil conservation practises include monitoring the use of fertilisers and other chemicals to minimise pollution. Commenting on the recognition, Johan Rebel, General Manager of Westfalia says: “Westfalia Agribusiness has always strived to be the industry leader in all its endeavours and the environmental issues are no exception. We are honoured to have our efforts acknowledged by Woolworths. We are pleased to be associated with a retailer that supports environmentally sustainable enterprise.” The judging panels for this award have included some of the leading local and international environmental and sustainability experts. Past judged have included: Sustainability expert Lynton Burger, Managing Director of SustBrands; Dr Haro Von Blottnitz, of the University of Cape Town’s Chemical Engineering Department; Peter Willis, South African Director of the University of Cambridge Programme for Industry; Dr Johan Ferreira, Head of Foods Technology for Woolworths; and Tom McLaughlin, Woolworths Technical Manager Foods Technology. “Rewarding suppliers for eco-efficient practice will help Woolworths entrench the principles of sustainable development in its supply chain. This initiative further underscores Woolworths commitment to enhancing the value of its product, in part by reducing the environmental impact of production process”. Lynton Burger, Managing Director of SustBrands. The award was previously only open to food suppliers. This year Woolworths Beauty, Clothing and Homes suppliers will also be invited to enter. Ends Editor’s notes Woolworths Good business journey Woolworths was named international responsible retailer of the year at the 2008 World Retail Awards in recognition of our Good business journey – our ongoing plan to make a difference in our communities, our country and our world. Woolworths Good business journey is a comprehensive 5 year plan announced in April 2007 to help people and planet. It incorporates a series of challenging targets and commitments centred on four key priorities: accelerating transformation, driving social development, enhancing Woolworths environmental focus and addressing climate change.