We are pleased to report that the percentage of our stores actively sorting and recycling their waste increased from 89% to 95% in 2017, while the number of stores tracking and reporting on waste diversion increased from 36% to 72%. During the period we reduced our overall waste generation by over 10,000 tonnes and recycled 16,500 tonnes of paper, plastic and board from our stores and DCs. We also piloted waste composting at selected Makro stores, while 41 Makro, Game and Jumbo stores in Gauteng and Western Cape, participated in a ‘Waste to Energy’ trial, collectively diverting 218 tonnes of organic waste from landfill.
Beyond driving operational paper, board and plastic recycling, our objective in 2018 is to expand programmes through which non-recyclable waste is diverted from landfill and identify solutions for facilities situated in areas in which waste recycling does not currently occur.
Along with standard water saving measures such as the installation of water saving taps, fixtures and dual flush toilets, we have implemented two unique water conservation measures at standalone stores. These involve the capture and reuse of rainwater from store roofs and condensate from refrigeration plants. In 2017, we expanded these water-harvesting systems to a further two Makro and Builders Warehouse stores bringing the total to 88 participating stores. We also installed an additional seven independent water meters at stores with garden centres, further improving our ability to monitor and reduce water consumption at these facilities. We estimate that through all these initiatives we collectively saved approximately 21 million litres of water in 2017.
In response to the water shortages in the Western and Eastern Cape we are independently tracking water resources in these catchments and have taken the decision to initiate added water saving measures, including:
In 2017, we installed energy efficient lighting in a further eight stores. We also increased, by eight, the number of stores making use of intelligent building management systems and daylight harvesting modules.
Group store energy intensity increased by 16% to 213.1 kWh/m2 , due primarily to our inclusion of more accurate energy consumption data for our Rhino stores. Improvements in energy efficiency were observed across our Masswarehouse, Massbuild and Masscash Divisions. As previously reported, in 2013 we developed an energy efficiency roadmap that required a 10% improvement in energy efficiency based on our 2010 store footprint. As we approach our 2020 energy efficiency goal we are currently performing 20% better than our target, having avoided the consumption of 50,000 MWh of energy in 2017 alone.
In 2017, we generated more than 1.9 million kWh of solar energy, while bringing a further two new solar plants online at our Builders Warehouse Northriding and our new Makro Riversands stores. These projects bring our total Group renewable energy generating capacity to approximately three million kWh per year, making us the largest producer of on-site renewable energy of any retailer in Africa. A further three solar plants are scheduled for construction during the course of 2018, the first of which will come online at Makro Springfield in February 2018.
We remain a participant in the FTSE/JSE responsible Investment index, having first been admitted at inception of the index in 2004. While we are currently on the Top 30 reserve list, it is our objective to once again be included in the top 30 Leadership Index following our FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index Review scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.