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Massmart on climate change

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At Massmart, we have become more focused on the risks that climate change, environmental degradation and proliferation of waste pose to our business and to society, and we are starting to explore the role that we play in contributing to these impacts.

But we want to be informed and sensible about our response to environmental challenges. So, in the last two years we have accelerated the development of a corporate environmental strategy, whilst avoiding making bold statements that we may not be able to live up to.

In early 2006, we retained a full-time environmental advisor who helped us identify and assess potential environmental risks and opportunities in our operations, our supply chain and our value proposition to customers. We are using this information to engage with our senior executives, buyers and store managers.

We are also learning from our peers – last year a group of executives spent time with Wall-Mart and had first hand exposure to their approach to sustainable development. Furthermore, we have initiated a process to engage more closely with our suppliers. For example, last year we screened all our seafood suppliers to make sure we are buying from sustainably harvested and grown sources. This year we have extended this supplier environmental risk screening process to other product lines.

We have also initiated a monthly shopper survey that focuses specifically on understanding shopper attitudes to environmental consumerism. Looking ahead this understanding could, for example, influence decisions to stock more energy-efficient products that will help all of us lower our carbon footprints and to partner with government, NGOs and others in finding solutions to issues such as post-consumer waste.

So our approach is to proceed prudently, to avoid acting opportunistically and, to acknowledge and learn from the mistakes that we may make along the way. It promises to be an exciting journey!

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