A multi-site approach towards integrating environmental management in the wine production industry
Nine wineries and a water bottling plant situated in the Franschhoek Valley, South Africa, have decided to lead the way towards creating a safer and more sustainable environment in the Valley. As part of the Vignerons de Franschhoek ECO Association (VFEA), they adopted a multi-site approach and obtained, in December 2003, the first ISO 14001 multi-site certification in South Africa. This proactive approach allows them better overall environmental performances through mutual motivation, information sharing and comparison of practices by the different participating organisations of the Valley. At the initiation of the project, the major concerns were associated with a lack of sound environmental management and training of employees. Of particular concern was also the lack of monitoring and measurement of environmental performance key indicators, especially in water consumption and wastewater disposal areas. Although the system is still in its juvenile stage, it already showed some effluent quality improvements through better wastewater management, better control over chemical stores as well as definite improvement in water management and increase in solid wastes recycling. The latter improvements will definitely entail long term cost savings should the system be continually and properly maintained. It is the intention of the VFEA to create a more environmentally friendly Valley by convincing others to be more environmentally responsive and expanding the ISO 14001 principles to other areas of the organisations including the farms, to other wineries and ultimately to the whole Franschhoek Valley.