National Water Week is upon us, Avis is putting water conservation top of mind to assist government and businesses in educating and raising awareness of the importance of water preservation in South Africa.
The journey towards a greener future is not one with a final destination, as Wayne Duvenage, chief executive of Avis, points out. “It is a fascinating road that has unexpected discoveries as one ventures into an area of new understanding about your business and behaviours that go unnoticed or unexplored,” he comments.
“Our own experience is showing that sometimes, daring innovation and constant investigation lead to surprising discoveries, about our business, about our impact on the environment, about our own Brand Ambassadors’ potential, our effect on the broader society and the way our green philosophy resonates with our clients.
“There is also the significant result of a savings of some R2 million being fed through annually to the bottom line,” adds Duvenage.
“It seemed logical that since South Africa is a water scarce country, the issue of water consumption and conservation should be among the first to be considered in every business and household,” Duvenage says. “In 2007, in first examining our water usage at the car-washing facility, we realised that by installing intensive water-recycling technology, we could reduce the amount of water used from over 220 litres to approximately 160 litres per wash. While clean water has to be used in the ‘final rinse arch,’ recycled water is used during the ‘pre-soak’ and ‘shampoo’ stages, which is where most of the water is needed,”
Currently, the Avis car wash machines recycle up to 85% of the water used, which is cleaned to below 2500 ppm clarity and has reduced the need for municipal water significantly, from approximately 160 litres to some 20 litres per car washed.
Avis has also introduced rainwater harvesting to achieve further reductions in water use at the final rinse stage of the vehicle washing process. Bulk underground reservoirs were installed to capture rainwater run-off from the roofs. A valve system was introduced to the wash bay machines to shut off the clean municipal supply automatically and replace it with harvested rainwater, thus making the Avis depots water-neutral facilities during the rainy season. All of these efforts have resulted in Avis saving more than 85 million litres per annum.
“More recently, we conducted water leak detection at our main head office buildings and discovered additional unnecessary water loss. Furthermore, water flow regulators were installed on all the taps at Avis and this has resulted in additional savings of over R24, 000 a year.” adds Duvenage.
Avis was humbled and honoured to receive the Climate Change Leadership Award for the corporate services category in 2011, as a result of the companies work and effort in the sustainability space. In addition Avis received the Enviropaedia Eco-Logic Award for Water Conservation and a special Commendation as runner-up in the category of Water Care at the Mail & Guardian’s Greening the Future Awards.
The Rhodes University Business School will be featuring the Avis Journey of Sustainability as a case study in its sustainability curriculum as an example of how Avis’ business has successfully entrenched sustainable business practice and behaviour within the organisation.
“Our water saving initiatives continue to make a difference and is another way that we, as a company, can try harder for our environment. We urge all to assist in saving this precious resource,” concludes Duvenage.