Sustainable development report 2015 | Annual report 2015

Environmental impact

Environmental impact

By impacting people’s lives, climate change affects both general insurance and the long-term insurance business. Natural disasters and the impacts of extreme weather will continue to raise the risk profile of clients in the general insurance industry, while disrupted and contaminated water supply will have a negative impact on the health and mortality of human populations, affecting the long-term insurance industry. As Wealthsmiths™ we are driven by a sincere desire to make a positive difference and to create a world worth living in. This starts with us caring for our environment.

Sanlam’s direct impact on the environment is small within the context of our business operations. Our impact is largely the result of the presence and activities of our people working in our six major office buildings across South Africa. However, as a leading institution in our country, it is important that we set an example by managing our natural resources responsibly as a precursor to commenting on, or attempting to influence, the behaviour of the companies in which we invest.


A strategic focus on embedding a green mindset

Our Energy Management Forum is playing an increasingly important role in improving Sanlam’s environmental performance. There is also growing awareness throughout the business that improving environmental performance demands clear targets, accurate measurement and formal structures.

All clusters participate in quarterly group environmental forum discussions. Business units have their own boards and executive committees that structure their activities within appropriate delegated authority levels.

Key Performance Indicators

Case studies

Success stories from the 2010 – 2015 target cycle
  • Energy: We met and exceeded our energy reduction targets in 2015. We reduced our annual electricity consumption by 7,9 million kWh between 2010 and 2015. This is enough electricity to power around 1 437 households in South Africa per year.
  • Water: We exceeded our water targets. In our bid to help create a world worth living in we are committed to drive awareness around the importance of water security and how we can use it wisely. In 2015 we again participated in the Global Water Disclosure Project, which enables society to interrogate how its corporate citizens use this scarce resource.
  • Waste management: Meeting our waste targets has been a challenge and this journey will continue until we are able to meet our zero waste-to-landfill target at Sanlam Head Office by concentrating on training and promoting separation at source.

Environmental impact material issues

We focus on the following material issues:

Carbon footprint and energy

Our carbon emissions decreased by 1,8% per full-time employee in 2015. We achieved massive electricity reductions in 2015.

Environmental resource conservation

Over the last five years we have reduced our water consumption by 53%.

Environmentally responsible investing

During 2015, we improved the quality of our environmental, social and governance (ESG) research.

See Responsible investment.

Setting our 2020 environmental targets

Sanlam and Santam have committed to reducing their office buildings’ scope 1 and scope 2 emissions intensity by 10% per employee by 2020, relative to 2014 levels. Apart from greenhouse emission targets, Sanlam will also have environmental sustainability targets linked to electricity, water, travel, waste and investments. This means committing to recording and tracking at least 80% of our scope 3 emissions.

View proposed breakdown of environmental targets

Carbon footprint and energy

Carbon footprint

The biggest contributor to our carbon emissions is the electricity we consume from the national grid. It is critical that Sanlam conserves its usage of electricity and ensures its supply can maintain critical IT systems around the clock. Our energy conservation strategy continues to aim to achieve efficiency.


Our energy conservation strategy continues to aim to achieve efficiency gains before committing to capital outlay.

This year we again participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and achieved a score of 98B (2014: 94A). Sanlam was among the top 30 companies to qualify for the JSE/FTSE Russell Index, and Santam qualified for the FTSE/JSE Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index. We have also been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Our carbon emissions for 2015 were 54 029 tCO2e (2014: 53 092 tCO2e) for an intensity of 9,54 CO2e/FTE. Our total emissions decreased by 7% compared to 2010. By far the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint is municipal electricity, which comprises 68% of the total. Sanlam Head Office contributes the greatest proportion of this, at 70%.

In 2015 we have reduced electricity consumption per square metre by 24% compared to 2010. Measured against the 2010 baseline, our indirect emissions (scope 3) increased by 44%. This is due to the inclusion of additional factors in the calculation of the carbon footprint from flights, vehicle fleet and waste. In 2015 we also included staff commuting survey as part of our scope 3 emissions. In 2015 average emissions per full time employee for staff commuting decreased from 1,24 to 1,18.

View Key Performance Indicators

Case study

Making our events carbon neutral

In 2014, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon (SCTM) became the first sporting event in South Africa to gain carbon neutral status. We achieved this landmark by purchasing carbon credits traded on the JSE platform using existing financial and commercial infrastructure.


In 2015, we introduced an app in partnership with Green Pop and the Climate Neutral Group that enabled SCTM participants to offset their own carbon emissions associated with travelling to and from the event.

The 2015 marathon attracted more than 15 000 runners from around the world. Its total greenhouse gas emissions were calculated at 1 292 tCO2e, or around 0.08 tCO2e per participant.

The SCTM is not the first Sanlam-sponsored event to be declared carbon neutral. Since 2013, we have also purchased carbon credits to offset gas emissions from our annual Benchmark Symposium.

Environmental resource conservation

View Key Performance Indicators

Water usage

We are not a water-intensive business. However, we recognise that we have a responsibility as a corporate citizen to address the challenges of water scarcity in the country.


Based on our municipal accounts, we estimate that the Sanlam Head Office consumes more than 40% of our total water usage, primarily through the HVAC system. By improving efficiencies, we are reducing our energy requirement, and also our water consumption. We have reduced our water consumption by 53% per square meter since 2010.

During 2015, we participated in the Global Water Disclosure Project. This initiative is designed to enable society to examine how its corporate citizens use this scarce resource. Our aim is to become water balanced by investing in WWF-SA’s water balance programme, focusing on the community project aimed at clearing alien plants in selected area(s) around the country in order to maximise water catchment.

View table

Download the independent limited assurance report

Paper usage

The manufacturing process of paper demands considerable energy, accompanied by the threat of pollution in the form of chlorinated organic compounds used in the bleaching process. In addition, paper not recycled decomposes in landfills, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times the heat trapping power.


In response, Sanlam uses environmentally friendly paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and recycles used paper.

View table

Waste management

Apart from paper, the waste Sanlam produces includes printer ink cartridges, packaging and food. We are committed to reducing the Group’s waste to landfill and increasing its recycling capacity. As Wealthsmiths™, we realise the importance of recycling and sharing tips on how to recycle correctly.


Our overall waste (kg/FTE) has decreased by 14% since 2011, largely as a result of better record keeping. In previous years we based a significant proportion of our information on estimates, but we have now introduced tighter monitoring that will enable us to achieve accurate and auditable waste figures.

In 2015, a communications strategy was drafted and during the year, we took steps to train staff on environmental sustainability, with a particular emphasis on energy, water and waste. This will continue into 2016.

View table

Green buildings

By using natural light and ventilation, as well as smart design for the movement and accommodation of employees, green buildings use significantly less energy and other resources.


Sanlam accommodates almost all of its 5 661 full-time employees in six major buildings. Two of these buildings have now achieved four-star status: a new seven-storey office block in Gauteng, close to the Sandton Gautrain station, and the Glacier building in Cape Town.

We have consolidated our staff complement as far as possible in the new four-star buildings, in order to reduce the need for less efficient buildings. Furthermore, we are assessing the other four buildings for their green building status and will use this understanding to make improvements in environmental efficiency.

During the year, we intensified our focus on the challenges associated with making our buildings and facilities as environmentally efficient as possible. We developed sustainable business cases for incorporating the most innovative and environmentally advanced designs into our building infrastructure. Significantly, we expanded this focus beyond our head office to cover all our buildings, notably our data centre.


Case study

WWF Sanlam partnership extended for 3 years

South Africa is one of the 30 most water-stressed countries in the world, with an average of just 450 mm rainfall a year. Additionally, only 8% of our country’s land area provides more than 50% of our surface water. To add to these challenges, South Africa is currently experiencing its worst drought since 1992. The rationale behind Sanlam’s partnership with WWF South Africa, which started nearly 10 years ago, is easy to appreciate in this context.


To date, Sanlam has committed R30 million to the partnership, and we are now extending this relationship for another three years, committing a further R20 million. Sanlam’s investment goes towards securing South Africa’s water source areas, promoting water stewardship, and empowering local government to integrate freshwater protection into its policies and plans.

Sanlam has also invested in a collaborative project with Cape Nature to clear 95,2ha of selected management compartments within the Driftsands Nature Reserve of alien invasive vegetation via WWF-SA.

The specific project objectives have been to:
  • Control the spread of invasive woody alien species
  • Contribute to local economic development and job creation through the creation of around 653,15 person work days.

The purpose, and real social impact, of clearing these compartments and substantially reducing the related biomass is the reduction in fire risk that confronts the surrounding informal settlement.

To renew WWF Sanlam partnership, a thought leadership event was hosted on 29 May 2015 at our Sandton offices (Alice Lane). The event addressed not only the current state of South Africa's water challenges but also why and how NGOs, the government and corporate partnerships can contribute meaningfully to better management of the country's water resources. The choice of venue for the event further demonstrates the Group's commitment to sustainability, as the Alice Lane building has a four-star green rating and features water efficient fittings.

Sanlam has also recently joined WWF's water balance project and is investing directly into the health of priority catchments. With an initial focus on the Ndlamlenze community in KwaZulu-Natal, mapping of invasive alien vegetation to be cleared and field verification has been completed by WWF and was submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs in July 2015. This project has since been put on hold to resolve internal community issues and will start again in 2016. Sanlam's involvement in this project does not only have a positive impact on the environment but also brings economic and social benefits to the community.

Co-ordination of Santam's Business-Adopt-a-Municipality work with the George municipality and Sanlam's water stewardship work funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and South African Breweries (SAB) in this area will also contribute to strengthen and develop catchment and landscape approaches.

Sanlam also continues to support Earth Hour annually by raising awareness internally among employees of our commitment to mitigating climate change. We also encourage employees to participate by switching off their non-essential lights for the duration of Earth Hour, and reflecting on their impact on the planet.

The Journey of Water II, which took place in May 2015, was amplified using a water installation displayed both in Durban and Johannesburg. The media and public relations drive around the installation was able to reach nearly four million people through broadcast channels. The advertising value equivalent of this was measured at more than R1 million, with spokespeople from both WWF-SA and Sanlam interviewed.

The Journey of Water campaign is promoted via an interactive website ( co-branded by Sanlam and WWF-SA, which provides information about water source areas.

For more information of the corporate partnerships of WWF, download