Woolworths sets new sustainability goal, receive financial backing from Standard Bank

SOUTH AFRICA – In line with its vision to be one of the world’s most responsible retailers, Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) based in South Africa has unveiled its next set of ambitious Good Business Journey sustainability goals.

These new goals focus on traceability, transparency, circularity, diversity and inclusivity as well energy and carbon emissions, to include future-focused, measurable targets aimed at making a meaningful difference in critical social, environmental and supply chain issues.

Part of its primary GBJ goals is attainment of fully transparent and traceable supply chain by 2025 and making all its private products to be reused, repaired, repurposed or recycled by 2025

In addition to that, the retailer seeks to ensure all is energy requirements will be from renewable sources by 2030 and attain net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

“Sustainability is core to our business – it impacts everything that we do. It has been entrenched into the culture of our organisation and is put into action through our Good Business Journey (GBJ) programme.

“We believe that setting ambitious sustainability goals not only stretches and challenges our own business to do more but also inspires others to collaborate and join the cause for good,” says WHL group CEO, Roy Bagattini.

Launched in 2007, the GBJ programme is the driving force that has already significantly reduced the business’ environmental impact and increased its social and economic impact across the entire value chain, notes WHL.

The GBJ focuses on improving nine key areas of the business: energy, water, waste, sustainable farming, ethical sourcing, transformation, social development, packaging and health and wellness, with over 200 targets supporting these areas.

“We believe that setting ambitious sustainability goals not only stretches and challenges our own business to do more but also inspires others to collaborate and join the cause for good.”

Woolworths Holdings Limited group CEO – Roy Bagattini

“For us the sustainability imperative is clear and compelling. Alongside the positive environmental and social impact, it ensures that our business is more resilient and adaptable to change.

“Our GBJ has had a cumulative financial impact of almost R2 billion (US$138 million) in savings since its inception and we have received global and national recognition for its ongoing meaningful impact,” adds Bagattini.

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While these new goals focus on the environmental and supply chain aspects of the group’s sustainability strategy, the profound impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on humanitarian issues has again highlighted the widespread socioeconomic disparities in our communities and the imperative to continue to work towards real and meaningful societal change.

WHL group head of sustainability, Feroz Koor, adds, “Our new GBJ goals elevate our group into challenging, yet exciting sustainability territory which will ignite collaboration, creativity and problem-solving.

“We know that for meaningful societal change and optimum impact we can’t walk this path on our own. We need to work together with other industry leaders, our suppliers, customers, employees, government, businesses and NGO partners. It is imperative for everyone to take action for the greater good of the planet and its people,” concludes Koor.

In line with its sustainability agenda, Woolworths has partnered with Standard Bank to execute the first sustainability-linked loan in the South African retail sector.

The R1.15 billion (US$79 million) sustainability-linked loan is aimed at promoting the achievement of various sustainability targets, demonstrating Woolworths’ commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles and realising its vision to be one of the world’s most responsible retailers.

Sustainability-linked loans tie the terms of funding to ESG outcomes to support and incentivise responsible corporate behaviour and the creation of shared value.

The structure of this facility aligns Woolworths’ financing decisions with its sustainability strategy, providing reducing interest rates depending on performance against a combination of sustainability performance targets.

It is also very strongly aligned to Standard Bank’s own SEE (Social, Economic and Environmental) impact framework.

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