As part of this engagement, participating suppliers receive individualised feedback on their progress within the key operational sustainability areas of energy efficiency, water conservation and waste management along with areas that affect production and distribution such as packaging recyclability, climate change and reputational risk. Feedback also benchmarks suppliers against peers within their supply category to incentivise improvement throughout the supply chain. Results from 2017’s advocacy surveys indicated that a further 10% of suppliers surveyed were engaged in improving on-pack environmental disclosure, whilst more than 60% were working to improve logistics efficiencies in their businesses.
To recognise suppliers who have made an exceptional commitment to environmentally sustainable business practices, we hosted our fourth Annual Supplier Environmental Awards ceremony in November 2017. Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa were the overall winners for 2017 having, amongst other projects, invested in the development of Africa’s first Coca-Cola approved rPET recycling plant capable of recycling approximately 21,000 tonnes of PET per annum. Woodlands Dairy and Samsung also received special recognition. Woodlands Dairy was honoured for being the first company in the dairy industry to implement an integrated wastewater treatment plant and biogas boiler, which reduced their reliance on municipal water by 45%, and cut emissions by 78%. Samsung was recognised for their industry-leading contribution to e-waste recycling through take-back schemes at Makro stores.
To improve seafood supply chain transparency and engagement, we introduced biannual genetic identity testing of selected seafood products (both national brands and Private Label). As part of this, we facilitated two sustainable seafood sourcing workshops with our suppliers in which we highlighted opportunities to strengthen sourcing controls.
Engaging with our suppliers to improve layer-hen welfare standards remains a focus for us. Supplier site visits and farm welfare audits were planned for 2017 but due to a national outbreak of avian flu, a decision was made to re-prioritise these visits for 2018.
As a leading retailer of Hi-tech and electronic merchandise, we assist our customers to safely and responsibly dispose of their e-waste. Since 2008, first with Fujitsu Siemens and then with Samsung, we have helped facilitate South Africa’s largest, longest running post-consumer e-waste recycling programme. This programme saw in excess of 103 tonnes of e-waste collected from across 20 Makro stores in 2017, bringing the total volume of e-waste recycled to 948 tonnes since inception.
Following the conclusion of our three-year partnership, Samsung have indicated their intention to explore other sustainability focus areas. We are engaging with other Hi-tech and electronics business partners to ensure the continuation of this project.
One further area that we have made progress in is improving the recyclability of our plastic consumer shopping bags. Following engagement with bag manufacturers and industry experts, we have committed to ensuring that the shopping bags we sell are fully recyclable and we are currently implementing a programme to cap the use of fillers at a maximum of 9% per bag.
Given the growing concern surrounding plastic waste in particular, our focus in 2018 will be to review our existing Private Label plastic packaging to optimise post-consumer recovery. One way in which we believe this can be achieved is by establishing mandatory standards for the inclusion of post-consumer recycled materials for all Private Label plastic packaging lines.
Lightworx, one of our Builders Warehouse Private Label brands is one such offering, which in 2017 sold over 640,000 LEDs, making Lightworx the bestselling LED brand in the Division, while Simple Choice, a Game Private Label brand sold over 430,000 LEDs, contributing 37% of Game’s LED sales. We have also noted a growth in sales of water saving products, especially rainwater-harvesting tanks which saw sales growth of 110% in Builders Warehouse, attributed to our customers become increasingly water wise.
We estimate that the sale of environmentally responsible products enables our customers to save approximately 96.4 million kWh of electricity annually.
By focusing our attention on product safety and compliance, we build trust in the products we sell. We also work with regulators to ensure that we maintain high levels of product safety.
In 2017, we continued to implement risk-based business processes and training across our Divisions to enhance our consumer protection and product safety programmes with a particular emphasis on ecommerce and customer complaint management. Our proactive, random testing programme allows us to manage potential product risks, thereby decreasing the number of products quarantined and recalled.
Our Food Safety programme includes food safety audits at a store and supplier level, product and environmental testing, food fraud testing, recalls, regulatory inspection management and training programmes.
During 2017, our focus was on improving the food safety standards in our stores, processing facilities and DCs. Our stores were audited against the highest South African regulatory standards and Walmart’s International Food Safety Standards. We make use of an independent food safety service provider to conduct audits across our environments and we have noted a significant improvement in our results.
We focus in ensuring all Private Label suppliers implement and comply to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards. In addition we conducted a total of 17,743 food safety tests through a third party SANAS accredited laboratory.