Sustainability

We live in a time of unprecedented change. In business, we face challenges and opportunities that are more critical and complex than ever before – where the consequences of failure are unimaginable, and the impact of our decisions is felt instantly across the planet. We need to balance the pursuit of business success together with making the world a better place.

It is about moving the issues of sustainability from the fringes to the heart of the business. It demands that business leaders rethink fundamental strategic questions – why we exist, where we should focus, how we are different, why we are different, why people will choose us, want to work for us and invest in our business.

The three categories covered in our sustainability programme are:  Environment, Social and Governance. Each area, in turn, has several sub-categories reflected below.

Environment

Woodlands Dairy has managed to mostly reduce its usage of energy sources per unit of product produced, which equates to significant cost saving benefits for the company. In achieving these reductions in energy sources, the environmental impact is also reduced accordingly.

Water & Energy Management

Our natural resources are being consumed faster than they are being replaced by Mother Nature. Their scarcity has escalated their demand, which has caused their financial value to skyrocket. Woodlands Dairy, being a big consumer of water and energy, directed our focus on reducing water and energy consumption, not only for financial benefit, but to protect the natural environment as well.

As a result, in March 2017 the wastewater treatment plant was commissioned at Woodlands Dairy to purify our wastewater up to SANS 241 standard, which is equivalent to potable water. The sustainable use of recycled water at Woodlands Dairy plays a key role in enhancing urban and community water supplies, in a water scarce Kouga local municipality. Since Woodlands Dairy has implemented the wastewater recovery plant it has not only shown the potential for improvements on water use strategies for the dairy, but also the spinoff benefits to the communities in the region.

The company has five energy sources: electricity, diesel, heavy fuel oil (HFO), biomass and solar. Biomass continues to be the most used energy source at Woodlands Dairy (Figure 1.1). During the production of steam, it plays an integral part as a source of energy. The demand for the use of biomass within the company has enabled the installation of another biomass plant which is planned to be completed by the end of November 2022. The installation of a biomass plant is a step forward, and of good benefit towards achieving the target of reducing carbon footprint emissions for the company and promoting a healthier environment. Using biomass for energy will cut costs and reduce dependence on other non-renewable energy sources.

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Water Consumption

Water Consumption

Our dam level is currently critically low, and the drought is seriously influencing our community and our farmers. The Kouga region is very dependent on water for agriculture, which requires a considerable amount of water. Woodlands Dairy has implemented numerous water-saving projects at our plant.

Our dependence on the municipality for fresh water supply has reduced significantly in the last few years. Our current water demand from the municipality is 55%, which equates to about 22 000 kl of water per month (Figure 1).

water consumption 2016 vs 2017

Figure 1: TThe municipal water demand measured in cubic metres.

Sustainability at Woodlands Dairy - pressure meter

Steam Consumption

Steam Consumption

Our production system requires large quantities of thermal energy to treat various products. Steam usage has an enormous impact on our operating system, not only on our cost of sales, but as an energy expense.

Due to significant increase in milk volumes from 2018 onwards, the mount of steam usage also increased correspondingly. With our focus to reduce the amount of steam consumed per 1000 litres of milk, we managed to reduce our steam usage in the last two years which is evident in Figure 2.

steam consumption graphic 2017

Figure 2: Steam usage ratio – kg steam /1000 litres Product produced

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Water Consumption

Water Consumption

Our dam level is currently critically low, and the drought is seriously influencing our community and our farmers. The Kouga region is very dependent on water for agriculture, which requires a considerable amount of water. Woodlands Dairy has implemented numerous water-saving projects at our plant.

Our dependence on the municipality for fresh water supply has reduced significantly in the last few years. Our current water demand from the municipality is 55%, which equates to about 22 000 kl of water per month (Figure 1).

water consumption 2016 vs 2017

Figure 1: The municipal water demand measured in cubic metres.

Sustainability at Woodlands Dairy - pressure meter

Steam Consumption

Steam Consumption

Our production system requires large quantities of thermal energy to treat various products. Steam usage has an enormous impact on our operating system, not only on our cost of sales, but as an energy expense.

Due to significant increase in milk volumes from 2018 onwards, the mount of steam usage also increased correspondingly. With our focus to reduce the amount of steam consumed per 1000 litres of milk, we managed to reduce our steam usage in the last two years which is evident in Figure 2.

steam consumption graphic 2017

Figure 2: Steam usage ratio – kg steam /1000 litres Product produced

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Energy Usage

Electricity Consumption

Staying true to our commitment to be a responsible energy consumer, we focus on reducing our electricity consumption. An increase in usage during 2020 is due to an added electrical supply point, which resulted in an increase of 17.3% per 1000 litre of product. Figure 3 reflects the resultant change.

elec consumption graphic

Figure 3: electricity usage ratio   – kwh / 1000 lt product produced

 

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Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

A base assessment of our carbon footprint was conducted in 2012 and since then our overall GHG footprint has reduced by 68.2%. The company has since implemented projects to reduce our carbon footprint and is continuously investigating opportunities to reduce our footprint even further.
Although the biggest opportunities for improvement have already been utilised, a solar system has been commissioned during 2021 and the impact will be reflected in the footprint calculation for this year – Figure 4 refers.

carbon footprint graphic

Figure 4: Greenhouse gas carbon footprint comparing year on year

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Energy Usage

Electricity Consumption

Staying true to our commitment to be a responsible energy consumer, we focus on reducing our electricity consumption. An increase in usage during 2020 is due to an added electrical supply point, which resulted in an increase of 17.3% per 1000 litre of product. Figure 3 reflects the resultant change.

elec consumption graphic

Figure 3: electricity usage ratio   – kwh / 1000 lt product produced

 

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Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

A base assessment of our carbon footprint was conducted in 2012 and since then our overall GHG footprint has reduced by 68.2%. The company has since implemented projects to reduce our carbon footprint and is continuously investigating opportunities to reduce our footprint even further.
Although the biggest opportunities for improvement have already been utilised, a solar system has been commissioned during 2021 and the impact will be reflected in the footprint calculation for this year – Figure 4 refers.

carbon footprint graphic

Figure 4: Greenhouse gas carbon footprint comparing year on year

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Diesel Consumption

Diesel Consumption

Our fleet of tanker trucks and sales vehicles are strictly managed by using vehicle tracking devices that monitor driving habits and vehicle performances. Vehicle fuel efficiencies are measured and evaluated continuously to ensure optimal usage of fuel and vehicles. The Figure 5 graph shows the continuous decrease in fuel usage per 100 litre of product.

elec consumption graphic

Figure 5: Diesel usage ratio – Lt’s diesel /1000 litres Product produced

 

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Diesel Consumption

Diesel Consumption

Our fleet of tanker trucks and sales vehicles are strictly managed by using vehicle tracking devices that monitor driving habits and vehicle performances. Vehicle fuel efficiencies are measured and evaluated continuously to ensure optimal usage of fuel and vehicles. The Figure 5 graph shows the continuous decrease in fuel usage per 100 litre of product.

elec consumption graphic

Figure 5: Diesel usage ratio – Lt’s diesel /1000 litres Product produced

 

Sustainable Dairy Farming

Sustainable dairy farming is of such importance to Woodlands Dairy because the farm is where the production of milk begins and the belief that the pursuit of business success should be in balance with making the world a better place. Global awareness is increasingly holding companies accountable for their impact on the environment. 

Woodlands Dairy has committed to ensuring safe and high-quality food products, but also embarked on minimising our environmental impact from farm to table.

Woodlands Dairy implemented the Woodlands Dairy Sustainability Project in 2014 in partnership with Trace & Save, an independent agricultural sustainability company, along with our own Woodlands Dairy Milk Standard.

The project aims to assist all of Woodlands Dairy producers to become more economically sustainable, to reduce the environmental impact of their farming practices and to ensure that socially responsible practices are implemented on their farms.

This is achieved through measuring various sustainability indicators on the farms using Trace & Save’s SWAN system (Soil, Water, Atmosphere and Nutrients). The SWAN system enables farmers to measure and track the health of their soils, water use efficiency on the farm (irrigation and product water use efficiencies), farm carbon footprint as well as the nutrient management with specific focus on nutrient inputs and outputs and energy utilisation on farms. 

The SWAN system indicators are used to provide a sustainability score for each farm and the scores are explained in detail here. The initial measurement for each farm for these indicators serves as a farm’s baseline score and thus the subsequent annual measurements are compared to this baseline.

This shows farmers their progress over time.

Woodlands Dairy producers can see the results of their measured indicators on their own online sustainability platform on the Trace & Save website. This shows their progress regarding sustainability and allows them to identify future opportunities for improvement. Consumers are also able to trace the progress of Woodlands Dairy producers regarding sustainable dairy farming by checking the sustainability score and observing its trend on the Trace & Save website, www.traceandsave.com.

The Woodlands Dairy Milk Standard has been rolled out to all milk producers of Woodlands Dairy. Producer farms are surveyed every second year to ensure producers’ compliance with legal, regulative and industry requirements. Each farm is audited by the Dairy Standard Agency (DSA), an independent industry governing body, and measured against pre-determined criteria that’s accepted, and approved by management and the Woodlands Dairy Milk Producers Organisation (WDMPO).

Quarterly visits and surveys are conducted on producer farms by Woodlands Dairy Sustainability and Producer Services departments to verify the upkeep of the Milk Standard by the producers. Producers are required to submit monthly reports regarding critical control points to the Sustainability Department. Any non-conformances regarding sub-standard practices are investigated and addressed.

The criteria used for these surveys focus on the following main aspects: The environment surrounding the milking parlour, the maintenance of the structures and equipment, safe water supply and waste management systems. 

The criteria used are:

Housekeeping and hygiene in the milking parlour and the safe handling of chemicals.

Pre-milk routines and effective separation of safe milk and milk not fit for human consumption.

Maintenance of milking equipment and ensuring a high level of hygiene of the equipment.

Milk storage facility and equipment should be kept at a high level of hygiene and access controlled to the facility. There should be effective measures in place to eliminate access of pests, domestic animals, and insects to the facility.

The safe transfer of milk to the milk storage facility, and collection of milk by the tanker vehicle for transporting to the processing plant.

Focus on personal hygiene of staff and relevant training to equip them to manage and maintain the facility and equipment to be food-safe and hygienic.

Attention is given to the safe handling and storage of animal medicine. There should be access control to medication, and records should be kept of animals that have been treated to manage withdrawal periods.

An effective recordkeeping system of all animals should be in place regarding life-history, inoculations, treatments, and all tests performed by a veterinarian to ensure the animals are cleared/safe to be milked for human consumption.

The wellbeing of staff working on the farms is measured against compliance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Employment contracts are randomly verified which stipulates working hours, wages and leave benefits. Furthermore, their housing facilities are also surveyed to be adequate with essential facilities such as running water and sanitary facilities.

The welfare of animals is measured against the internationally accepted criteria of the Five Freedoms of animals. 

These freedoms encompass the following:

  • Freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
  • Freedom from fear
  • Freedom to engage in relatively normal patterns of animal behaviour.

Animals and the animal handling facilities are physically inspected to verify the above-mentioned criteria in order that animal freedoms are met.

A continuous measuring and monitoring system is in place to measure the quality of milk from every producer supplier to Woodlands Dairy. 

The quality of milk is measured against the following criteria:

  • Bacteria
  • Somatic Cell Count (SCC)
  • Butterfat
  • Protein
  • Absence of antibiotics
  • The absence of added water

Social

Education and Development

The need to develop employees to match the human capital requirements of the company as it expands is an ongoing necessity. It is also crucial from a staff moral perspective to invest in employees and create opportunities for internal growth. It is also generally easier to retain local people than to attract people to the area.

Engaged, skilled and empowered youth are the product of the Woodlands Dairy Learnership Programme. The project started in 2012 with twenty learners and each year new learners are placed on the programme; the class of 2022 has more than fifty learners. The programme targets matriculated youth from the local area who are not permanently employed in the formal job market. It aims to retain these youngsters who would usually seek employment outside of the Kouga region due to limited opportunities in the area. The one-year Production Technology Learnership refreshes numeracy and communication fundamentals and covers core learning areas including operational and quality principles, housekeeping, and workplace safety. Learners who successfully complete the learnership programme are awarded a NQF 2 National Certificate: Production Technology. Learners spend time in the classroom and operational areas of the factory providing them with the necessary workplace exposure to apply for permanent positions within the company upon completion of the programme. The programme has been highly successful, providing students who complete their learnership with the opportunity to seek a permanent position at the factory; many have excelled and been promoted. Woodlands Dairy is committed to developing people and believes that the future of these learners is being shaped for an excellent tomorrow. The learnership program forms part of the Woodlands Dairy CSI Portfolio.

The need to develop our junior management was identified in 2012. Nine learners, holding junior management positions were enrolled in a NQF 4 Management Learnership in October 2012. The number of learners enrolled each year on this programme has expanded as the need to empower and develop talent has expanded to match the needs of the organisation. The programme has evolved over the years and now places an emphasis on leadership principles. The current intake is twenty employees per time.  Employees who successfully complete this programme and demonstrate high potential have the opportunity to progress to a NQF 5 Management Learnership which places focus on the role of the leader of leaders within the workplace. 

Our apprentice program was initiated in 2011 as a medium to long-term project with the objective of creating a level of self-sustainability by providing the company with a pipeline of critical artisan personnel that are not always readily available externally. Five apprentices began this journey in 2011. Subsequently, we have added five additional learners each year, increasing this to ten in 2016. Most of these employees, and those who followed in their footsteps were from previously disadvantaged groups and contribute towards achieving the company’s employment equity targets. In 2022 a decision was made to transition from developing electricians to millwrights and thereby creating well rounded artisans with an improved skills base.

Many of our staff development initiatives are supported via FoodBev SETA grant funds. 

Woodlands Dairy employees are entitled to apply for financial support to further their tertiary education in relevant fields of study that will support their personal growth and contribute to organizational success.

Staff Wellbeing

The wellbeing of Woodlands Dairy’s own staff is looked after through the availability of the following facilities and services to all staff.

An on-site clinic manned with a full-time nurse and part-time doctor renders health services to employees and conducts medical surveys to monitor staff health.

Medical aid membership is available to qualifying staff members.

Employees have access to an independently run Employee Wellness Program (EWP) which provides employees and their immediate family members with access to counselling and advice services for a range of issues including family issues, financial difficulties, substance dependence, basic legal advice, and trauma counselling.

Woodlands Dairy is committed to a study bursary scheme that provides funding for children of employees that wish to embark on tertiary studies at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU). Bursaries are allocated to deserving students for the first year of their studies.

Our annual survey provides employees the opportunity to rate their degree of satisfaction in the workplace. Key touch points of the survey include fairness, level of satisfaction of their leader’s support and guidance, communication, health and safety, and work life balance. In 2021, we continued to maintain a high level of positivity and achieved an overall score of 88.7% vs. 88.2% achieved in 2020.

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Enterprise Development

On Time Laundry

In 2013 Woodlands Dairy identified an opportunity to develop a local business, thereby supporting local entrepreneurs, Rudi and Angela Hendriks, to fulfil their dream. The factory Quality System requires staff to attend work in clean overalls daily. Woodlands Dairy contributed financially to purchase the premises and equipment, while On Time Laundry services collection, cleaning, and delivery of clean and tidy overalls to Woodlands Dairy.

Milkway Transport

Since 2016, we partnered with local entrepreneur, Clayton Damons and assisted his business, Milkway Transport with operations, financial aspects, and development. The partnership began at the beginning of 2016 as part of the company’s strategy to empower previously disadvantaged business owners. Milkway Transport delivers a reliable and cost-effective service and as a result of this excellent service the company decided to purchase a truck and trailer towards the end of 2019 to enable them to meet the growing demand of transport.

Health and Safety

It is not in the interest of any company or organization to expose their staff to health or safety risks. We have a safety drive that focusses on educating, informing, identifying and, if necessary, enforcing the employee to make safety a way of life. We aim to show them the advantages of safety and share knowledge that will assist them not only at work but also at home. The challenge is to change the employee’s perspective with regards to safety so that they can implement these changes into their lifestyle. Safety in the workplace is measured according to the number of accidents, divided by the number of hours worked during a 12-month period. In safety terms, it is called Disabling Injury Frequency Rate (DIFR). Each year we set out to better our DIFR goal of the previous year. The graph below depicts our DIFR.

Screen Shot 2017 09 05 at 9.20.31 AM e1513063458990

Privacy & Integrity

Woodlands Dairy complies with the law in respect of the data it holds about individuals. Woodlands Dairy undertakes to follow good practices and endeavours to protect our staff, other individuals, companies, and itself from the consequences of a breach of its responsibilities.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Woodlands Dairy prides itself on the implementation of social responsibility projects and giving back to the surrounding communities.

Woodlands Dairy CSI Projects 2015/2016/2017

Governance

Woodlands Dairy is committed to good corporate governance. While the company is privately owned and un-listed, executive management is guided by the outcomes envisaged in the King IV Code on Corporate Governance that are applicable to non-listed entities. The outcomes referred to in King IV are:

1) An ethical culture,

2) Performance and value creation,

3) Adequate and effective control, and

4) Trust, good reputation, and legitimacy

Our core values are the cornerstones of Woodlands Dairy. They are deeply rooted and govern the way we conduct ourselves as a company and as directors, management, and employees of the company.

The ESG Committee oversees and monitors the business ethics on an operational level. It is responsible, amongst other things, for setting the tone in the organisation, overseeing policy setting and training in policies pertaining to ethical conduct for all employees; implementation and monitoring of controls, reviewing and responding to whistle-blowing matters raised. 

This committee meets on a regular basis and reports back to the Social and Ethics, Audit and Risk (SEAR) committee, who in turn, reports back to the board and ultimately the shareholders. 

The ESG committee comprises members of the executive committee and other members of management. The CEO is the Chairman of the ESG committee.

The board, management and employees appreciate that the overall business strategy, risk management processes, performance management systems, sustainable development processes, reporting and assurance on those measures and processes, are integral to sustainable value creation for all stakeholders.

The Board members are accountable to the key stakeholders, and especially our shareholders to ensure adequate and effective controls are in place to ensure sustainable business practices. 

Our Board comprises a balance of executive, non-executive directors, and an independent non-executive director. Members to the Board are appointed by the shareholders on an annual basis. The CEO of the company is appointed by the shareholders and the CEO appoints and oversees the activities of the executive committee members at an operational level. 

The board delegates certain of its responsibilities to a SEAR Committee and a Remuneration Committee. Both these committees comprise a majority of non-executive directors and each has a non-executive chairperson. 

The SEAR Committee oversees the following:

  • The activities of the ESG Committee, 
  • The appointment and performance of work done by internal and external auditors, 
  • The financial reporting process and internal control measures, 
  • The risk management process, 
  • The activities of the ICT Steering Committee, 
  • Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

The Remuneration Committee assists the Woodlands Dairy Board of Directors in fulfilling its responsibility with respect to oversight of the establishment, administration and the appropriate functioning of remuneration schemes and related matters for employees of the Group, as well as compensation for directors, the executive committee, and other employees.

As a company, we aspire to be a responsible corporate citizen, assessing and responding responsibly to the potential consequences of the activities of Woodlands Dairy. We ensure that we always take a stakeholder inclusive approach to building trust and seek to always act in a manner that takes the respective legitimate needs and wants, interests and expectations, of our stakeholders into account whilst also acting in the best interest of Woodlands Dairy.