With the increasing knowledge and quest for a sustainable future for all, environmental activists across the globe have been pushing industries and other business sectors to go green. In April, Greenpeace launched the ‘Renewable Energy Champions’ campaign in a report tagged ‘Shopping Clean: Retailers and Renewable Energy’. The campaign looks at pushing companies to reinforce their operations and switching to renewables as South Africa has quiet an enormous renewable energy potential.
The Greenpeace report also highlighted the five leading businesses that have committed to integrating and investing renewable energy into their systems of operations. The five companies were listed as Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Woolworths, Spar and Massmart. Since the commencement in April, Greenpeace have mapped the progress of this businesses over the last six months.
Early this year, Massmart had installed 520kW and a 430kW solar system at their Carnival Mall and Woodmead Makro stores respectively. Also, another company – Woolworths, commenced a project which looks at installing a 2MW solar PV. According to reports, these new solar projects by these businesses is capable of powering 500 – 700 average South African households. Although a difficult task to do, these businesses have struggled to lobby and clear all hurdles that stands as barriers to renewable energy.
“When comparing the retailers to one another, Woolworths is still in the lead with an improved score of six out of ten. Massmart is close behind Woolworths with a score of five and a half, a significant improvement from their April score. Pick n Pay has also shown a significant improvement and is now engaging with Greenpeace on how they can increase their commitments to renewable energy in the future. Spar and Shoprite are at the bottom of the table with Shoprite scoring the lowest of all five retailers” said Penny-Jane Cooke, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.
Cooke continued to say that “One of the most significant actions undertaken by Massmart, Woolworths and Pick n Pay this year was their commitment to lobby to remove the barriers to renewable energy. The retailers have agreed to the need for a holistic sector approach that includes financial mechanisms and regulatory frameworks to create an enabling framework for renewable energy going forward, and have agreed to focus on lobbying for this, meanwhile Woolworths alone has taken the important step of committing to a 100% renewable energy future.”
Both Shoprite and Spar were ranked below mainly because Spar have made no significant commitment towards renewable energy in 2016 while Shoprite is identified to lack publicly available information, transparency and unwillingness to engage with Greenpeace on such issues. According to Cooke, Shoprite is still not taking renewable energy seriously but he is sure the retail store can do more to show solar some love as their competitors are doing.