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Pick n Pay reduces its energy intensity by well over a third

| Going green

Since 2008 Pick n Pay has reduced its energy intensity per square metre by 36.9% through both improvements in technology and behavioural change. The group has also expanded its solar installations.

While South Africa continues to struggle with its electricity supply, reducing dependency on the country’s grid goes beyond working to alleviate Eskom’s challenges. Electricity generation is a large contributor to climate change and in South Africa, accounts for a significant amount of Greenhouse gas emissions, recorded at 82% in 20131. 

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day – celebrated globally on 5 June – calls for action to combat air pollution, and ultimately global warming consequences. While it may seem like a complex global crisis, everyone can play their part to reduce some of it. 

Gareth Ackerman, Chairman of Pick n Pay, says that Pick n Pay links its sustainability strategy close to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. 

“You only need to watch the news to see the impact of climate change – ranging from droughts across South Africa to extreme weather patterns elsewhere in the world. We all need to be more conscious of our carbon footprint and take steps to reduce our energy usage if we are to mitigate risks that threaten our food supply in the longer-term,” says Ackerman. 

Launching its energy reduction efforts in 2008, these were formalised in 2010 with Pick n Pay’s Energy Efficiency programme to improve and monitor energy efficiency in key areas, such as refrigeration, lighting, and air-conditioning, at each store. 

Izak Joubert, Pick n Pay’s Property Group Executive, says that there are various ways Pick n Pay has switched and saved its energy usage to reduce its impact on the environment.

“Six solar installations have been completed. Over the past two years, three new solar installations were installed and two were expanded significantly which saw our generation capacity increase 10-fold from 548 kWp to 5.59MWp,” says Joubert.

Solar power has been installed at Pick n Pay’s two largest distribution centres – Longmeadow in Gauteng and Philippi in the Western Cape – and four standalone stores – Plattekloof, On Nicol, Rosmead and Faerie Glen Hyper. “We will continue to research viable sites to expand our solar installation,” said Joubert.

As refrigeration consumes a large percentage of a store’s total electricity usage, Joubert says that stores are increasingly being fitted with climate-friendly refrigeration systems to further reduce CO2 emissions.

84 stores have been installed with low-emission hybrid refrigeration systems with a lower global warming impact. 

Since last year Pick n Pay began installing full CO2 (trans-critical) refrigeration systems in most new and refurbished stores which have a minimal impact on global warming. “These new refrigeration systems are 40% more energy efficient than the older fridge systems and 25% more efficient than the hybrid refrigeration system and bring the best in efficiencies using CO2 with zero ozone depletion. The stores will harvest condensate water to run the refrigeration system, minimising the need to tap into any municipal water. The refrigeration system can also be used to heat water for the store, thus avoiding the use of geysers,” explains Joubert.

Pick n Pay is one of 10 South African companies participating in the Science-Based Targets initiative, a joint effort of CDP, WRI, WWF and UN Global Compact, which works with companies to set science-based emissions targets. Pick n Pay was recently announced as one of the best performing South African retailers in the 2018 Carbon Disclosure Project, with a B rating in recognition for its efforts to reduce its impact on climate change.

“We have worked very hard over the past 11 years and made significant progress to reduce our energy intensity and carbon emissions. Our aim is to continue taking bigger steps and leaving smaller footprints in our environment,” concludes Joubert. 

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