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SA retailer Woolworths on mission to conserve water
Mar '15
South African retailer Woolworths is on a mission to save water and to do so, is changing store designs in its retail store network across the whole African continent.

The retailer has set out to drastically reduce the amount of water it uses; focus on a water efficient store and in the process discovered a surprising amount of water, lost through unseen store property leaks.

“The Waterstone Woolworths store in Cape Town is a leading example of real estate designed for efficiency and better resource management,” Woolworths informs in a press release.

Woolworths is actively working to save water by drastically reducing the amount of water it consumes, in its own operations and those of its suppliers and applying these lessons across it whole store network.

Before Woolworths opens a new store, office or distribution centre, it now looks at the design of the property to make sure it uses water efficiently.

Its stores now include features such as water-saving air-conditioning, kitchens and rest-room facilities and at the same time a few selected properties collect rainwater, while a few others recycle it.

The move to sophisticated water monitoring, revealed a surprising amount of water lost through an extensive matrix of leaks, hidden from view, beneath its stores.

At one store in Cape Town, Woolworths discovered leaks, which resulted in the loss of 2.5 millions of litres of water a month, which is as much as an Olympic size swimming pool of municipal water lost a month.

Woolworths now works with property developers and landlords, across the continent to repair leaks and improve water billing.

By the end of 2015, these measures will see relative water use in Woolworths stores cut in half, from a 2007 benchmark.

Woolworths head office campus in Cape Town now taps into an underground water supply after the company realised that it could harvest the underground water, treat it and use it.

This water is used for the building’s bathroom facilities, kitchens, car wash, courtyard fountain and cooling towers.

This way, the office campus has saved 28.5 million litres, in municipal water, since 2012, with an aim to have a 70 per cent relative reduction in municipal water use by 2015.

Finally, Woolworths is also educating its supply chain and providing valuable water-saving tips to customers and employees.

The retailer also regularly measures the amount of water used by selected suppliers and works with them to conserve and improve waste water management.

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and the United Nations are among some of the other partners, Woolworths is also working with, to drive water conservation. (AR)

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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