At least 60% of our country’s water is used in farming irrigation, and Woolworths, as a major supplier of fresh produce has to play a role in water conservation. We are deeply committed to being part of the solution and have a long history of working with our suppliers to influence change. In addition, the quality of our water is increasingly threatened, in part by industrial and agricultural activity. In line with our Good business journey plan, Woolworths is working with suppliers to reduce water usage and improve the management of waste water and water effluent. Where we’re going – Reducing Woolworths relative water consumption by 30% by 2012; – Working with suppliers to reduce water use and improve waste water management; and – Researching and understanding the water footprint of selected priority products. What we’re doing Woolworths programme includes the following measures: – When evaluating new real estate opportunities, Woolworths considers if the design of the store or distribution centre uses water efficiently. – In 2009 head office facilities and stores showed a relative decrease in relative water usage. – No materials, dyes or chemicals used in the production of Woolworths clothing or textiles pose an unacceptable risk to health – or to the environment. – Woolworths measures the amount of water used by suppliers and works with them to reduce water use and improve water waste management during the production process. – Woolworths farmers adhere to sustainable farming practices. This includes Eurogap, organics and Woolworths own groundbreaking Farming for the future programme. – We are working with the Global Compact and the German Development Agency (GTZ) to further analyse water usage in agriculture and develop methods for reduction. – Woolworths is working with the scientists and academics to identify South African arable areas that are likely to struggle with water scarcity due to the impacts of climate change. – We are committed to water conservation education. A selection of brief case studies Water neutrality – offsetting Woolworths water use Woolworths is the first retailer to join the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Water Neutral Scheme. Woolworths is becoming water neutral by eliminating invasive water-thirsty alien plants on supplier farms and in protected areas, such as the Tankwa Karoo National Park. The project is a 20-year commitment. The WWF estimates that 7% of South Africa’s average annual run-off is used by alien and invasive plants. Farming for the future Woolworths sustainable agricultural programme farms fresh produce sustainably by improving the quality of our soil, promoting biodiversity, using chemicals only as required and importantly saves on the use of fresh water. Farming for the future measures the water required for the plant and irrigation is used only if and when required. Early indications show a significant water saving. The conservative use of chemicals also prevents fertilisers and pesticides from polluting rivers and other water systems. Woolworths suppliers’ efforts Examples of what our suppliers are doing: • La Motte produces red wines (Grand Rouge Merlot and Grand Rouge Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz Reserve) for Woolworths as well as potted disa plants. La Motte has a professional environmental management system. They have reduced their relative water usage per litre of wine. • Kimberly-Clark South Africa achieved a relative reduction in total water usage. Both suppliers are previous winners of Woolworths eco-efficiency award that recognises suppliers for excellence in sustainable business practice. Editors notes Water savings tips: Here are some tips on how you too can save water – and money – and make a difference. – Try to use eco-friendly detergents and cleaning products – Woolworths has a great range to choose from, they're much better for our environment and your plants won’t mind them. – Reuse water wherever you can – throw bath and shower water into your garden or toilet rather than down the drain. – Make sure that your home is leak free – read your water metre before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the metre readings don’t match, you have a leak. – Report all significant water losses to your landlord or the local authorities. – Reduce toilet flush volume – this can save water consumption. – When buying a washing machine, look for one that is water and electricity efficient. – Use water-wise plants. Learn what types of grass, shrubbery, and plants do best in your area, and then plant accordingly. – Water early morning or late evening, during the cooler periods of the day, as much of the water used can simply evaporate between the sprinkler and the grass when it’s too hot. – Don’t over water your lawn. As a treat for your grass, you can also use your bath or shower water to water it. – Mulch your flower beds, pot plants vegetable and herb garden. – Make sure your water feature recycles the water it uses. – create an awareness about water conservation at home e.g. avoid toys which require a constant stream of water.