Sustainability takes centre stage at BAT South Africa

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are becoming an increasingly important corporate priority around the world, as they are for British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa.

Globally, BAT has set targets to address climate change, minimise its use of natural resources and reduce waste across its value chain. The targets set are based on a 2017 baseline and form the basis of the company’s international ESG agenda to:

  1. achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and 100% use of renewable electricity;
  2. achieve 30% water recycling, 35% reduction of total water withdrawn by 2025, and the prestigious Alliance Water Stewardship (AWS) certification;
  3. achieve Zero Waste-to-Landfill by 2025, as well as recycling levels of 95% with a total waste reduction of 15%; and
  4. eliminate all unnecessary single-use plastic and work towards ensuring all plastic packaging produced is recyclable by 2025.

Building A Better Tomorrow™

“BAT’s Better Tomorrow strategy is about creating a business that reduces risks to our consumers and protects the environment. We are transitioning from being a business where sustainability has always been important, to one where it is central to everything that we do,” says Johnny Moloto, General Manager for BAT South Africa.

BAT’s South African operation will make a significant contribution to the company’s global goals by reducing the environmental impact of its factory in Heidelberg, the eighth largest factory in BAT’s stable worldwide. The Heidelberg factory accounts for a significant proportion of the company’s total production for both domestic consumption and export into the wider Southern African area.

R50-million spent on quitting coal 

Now, a R50-million investment in new gas-powered steam and energy generators, along with a 1MW solar installation, will stop BATSA’s reliance on coal power and eliminate 20-kilotons a year in carbon emissions. 

Secondary business benefits include reduced energy consumption from improved factory efficiency with uninterrupted, stable power supply; elimination of the need for diesel backup generators; and an end to disruptive load-shedding for the plant.

The factory has also adopted a lean manufacturing system to optimise its processes to reduce waste generation, and energy and water consumption to support its ESG agenda. 

Going beyond waste generated on-site, BAT South Africa has introduced a take-back-scheme for pods used in its Vuse vaping devices, which incentivises consumers to return the pods for recycling. The plastic components are cleaned and recycled, along with electronic parts, such as their ceramic heating elements.

BAT South Africa has already collected and recycled 2-million pods through its “Drop the Pod” initiative at its Vuse stores.

8.8-million litres of water recycled in 2021

Meanwhile, BAT South Africa has installed capacity to recycle water up to 18-kilolitres per hour under the Heidelberg factory. With a storage capacity of 576-kilolitres, the factory managed to recycle 8.8-million litres of water using this facility and plans to expand this further in 2022. Water from the factory’s chillers, boilers and harvested rainwater is treated through reverse osmosis, which removes unwanted particles and returns the water to potable standards. 

The company is now working with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to identify opportunities to recycle even more water from the production process, as the Group aims to reduce its reliance on water from natural resources by 24% this year.

“We rely on natural resources to run our business. Securing them and minimising their use are critical to delivering our Better Tomorrow strategy,” says Moloto.

“As a global business, we know we also have a responsibility to wider society. That’s why we are driving environmental excellence for a greener tomorrow.”

For more information, visit: Sustainability at BAT South Africa

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