Johannesburg – Upmarket retailer Woolworths is among five South African companies’ to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) this year.
Other local companies in the index are Goldfields‚ Investec‚ Nedbank and Sasol.
Woolworths is the only South African retailer to be listed on the DJSI.
Launched in 1999‚ the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes are a family of indexes evaluating the performance of the world's leaders in sustainability. They are the longest-running global sustainability benchmarks worldwide and they provide asset managers with reliable and objective benchmarks to manage sustainability portfolios.
The DJSI is managed cooperatively by Dow Jones Indexes and SAM (Sustainable Asset Management).Justin Smith
‚ Head of Sustainability at Woolworths Holdings [JSE:WHL]
said the group had saved over R135m through sustainable initiatives between 2008 and 2012.
“We’ve learnt a lot since the start of our Good Business Journey in 2007. We can now show that sustainability makes business sense by saving‚ for example‚ energy‚ water and fuel‚” Smith said.
The company’s “Good Business Journey” focuses on six key areas: sustainable farming‚ water‚ energy‚ waste‚ social development and transformation.
In its integrated annual report released last week‚ the retailer said it had made good progress in addressing the sustainability impacts of its own operations.
“We are now focusing on the life cycle of our products to ensure that we centre our attention on the impacts of food production on farms and the use of textiles products by customers – the areas that have the biggest energy and water impacts in our value chain‚” Woolworths said.
Retailers are implementing sustainable business practices that benefit both their bottom line and sate the appetite of consumers who are becoming more aware of the impact they have on the environment.
“Our Good Business Journey continues to ensure the business and its suppliers focus on ensuring we play our part in the key social and environmental issues facing the country. In doing this‚ we also enhance our brand and benefit from operational efficiencies and cost savings‚” CEO Ian Moir
Customers are also increasingly demanding that companies act and behave responsibly.
“Customers are demanding more information about where products come from and expect products to have ethical and environmental attributes‚ generally without an increase in cost‚” Mr Moir said.
Pick n Pay was the first retailer in SA to commit to sell only sustainably sourced seafood by 2015.
The company also has a number of other sustainability initiatives in place‚ including enterprise development and reducing the ecological footprint of the packaging of Pick n Pay’s corporate brands.
“Consumer interest in green and ethical products remains strong. While the demand for green and ethical products increases‚ consumers continue to expect price parity in the product offerings. Our attention is therefore focused on meeting these dual requirements‚” the company said in its annual report in May.
*Follow Fin24 on Twitter