Gauteng Business News

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ENVIRONMENT: Imperial Transforms Dumpsite to ‘green Logistics’ Landmark


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All systems have been a go for Imperial Cargo, as the new Paarl-based headquarters switched on to solar power and opened the valves of its self-sufficient water treatment plant. The move to renewable energy, working with the natural elements and re-use of wash water coincided with World Environment Day celebrations.

In just two years, Imperial Cargo, a member company of Imperial Logistics has transformed what was a dumpsite into a ‘green logistics’ landmark site. “The headquarters, which comprise an office building for 120 employees, a 2,000 m² warehouse, wash bay and workshop with nine bays harness natural power, light and ventilation,” says Abrie de Swardt, Imperial Logistics Marketing Director.

At this point in time, Imperial Cargo has one of the largest photovoltaic installations in the Western Cape. “The solar power system will generate and deliver in excess of 30,461 KWh annually. The company’s Greenfields project has enabled clean, renewable energy usage at the site for the next 20 years,” he says.

Investment in renewable energy infrastructure is one way in which Imperial Logistics is leading the green logistics evolution. De Swardt explains that everything about Imperial Cargo’s green logistics hub has been well thought through, with each of the natural elements having been leveraged in an integrated manner.

For example, due to the office’s east-west orientation, no desk in the whole building is positioned more than 1.5 m from a window. Through use of natural ventilation, staff do not need to switch on air conditioners, which also only start up based on a preset temperature.

“The result of the project is one of transformation of an existing dumping ground to a productivity hub that works with the often erratic Paarl climate, to produce not only the required amount of energy, but a surplus,” he adds. “Over and above water cost savings generated by the on-site water treatment plant, the most critical saving lies in the reduction of water consumption and the limited amount of water that is contaminated and released back into the environment.”

“Renewable energy has significant potential that is not yet being effectively harnessed in supply chains,” comments de Swardt. “Consider the way in which electricity consumption for lighting purposes can be decreased simply by leveraging natural light in a warehouse. Or the way in which water run-off from a warehouse roof can be stored for vehicle wash bay usage. Use of solar power in South Africa can essentially provide energy for free, post payback period. In buildings, motion sensors are able to automatically switch off lights and air conditioners in empty offices.”

Further ‘green logistics’ initiatives implemented at Imperial Logistics include its investment in South Africa’s first Euro5 fleet and zero emission refrigeration technology such as the eco-fridge. It also covers the Group’s renowned ‘extra distance’ studies through which supply chain wastage is eliminated.

“Future generations will be impacted by the business decisions we take today,” he notes, citing budding young engineer and winner of this year’s United Nations WED blog competition, Ximena Prugue’s, winner. She said, “A few days ago, I read about World Environment Day (which is sort of like Earth Day, just taken a little more seriously than just leaf-shaped cookies in the cafeteria) and this year’s theme is Forests: Nature at your Service… So I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘well … what am I supposed to do about it?’ … Listen kids, it’s called GLOBAL warming because climate change anywhere in the world affects all of us.”

“Together with the various Imperial Logistics initiatives, resource conservation and related behavioral change by our 16,000 employees in southern Africa and almost 2,500 internationally can certainly make a big difference to future generations,” concludes de Swardt.

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