Gautrain’s green initiatives received the Industry Leader Category Award from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport South Africa and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa at their inaugural Green Supply Chain Awards in Parktown on 27 August.

Former Gautrain environmental project manager, Ettienne van der Lith, was honoured as the Best Green Supply Chain Leader. Van der Lith is a worthy industry leader award winner for the manner in which Gautrain implements its environmental management policies and initiatives. As part of the initiatives followed during the construction phase, the greening of the construction supply chain was identified as a key contributor to environmental management. The greening of the supply chain required careful consideration and resource allocation as civil construction projects usually allows little room for greening a traditionally cement and steel dominated industry.


Former Gautrain environmental project manager, Ettienne van der Lith, receiving the award for the Best Green Supply Chain Leader. Right is Susan Custers, publisher of Supply Chain Today magazine and Vince Boswell, programme director of the Green Supply Chain Awards evening.

The main aim of greening the supply chain was to reduce cost and waste and to ensure it does not interfere with the demanding construction schedule. By proactively evaluating waste streams and finding potential re-use and engineering resource replacement strategies, it was possible to significantly reduce natural resource dependence on a project of this nature. Mining waste generated by the construction of the underground tunnels was temporary stockpiled, crushed and processed and used in lieu of commercial sourced materials. Similarly other company’s waste streams were also identified for use during the construction process. Waste materials were also sourced from AEL and Kelvin Power Station where the volumes of self generated material were insufficient. Overall less than 5% of the material required for fill and layer works required for the construction was purchased from commercial (natural resource) sources.

Mining associated with the construction of the underground tunnels are typically considered to be a water hungry activity. By careful modelling and calculating ground water inflows it was possible to erect water treatment facilities at the correct locations to treat polluted mine process water to a standard acceptable for re-use during the mining. At peak an estimated 50 000m3 of mining water was recycled per month, which related to a reduction of more than 95% of municipal dependence.

Various other initiatives were also implemented ranging from the recycling of hydro carbons and steel to the replanting of various protected and indigenous trees along the alignment.

The Green Supply Chain Awards recognises efforts to implement and sustain a green supply chain in the country. Most of South Africa’s corporate industries’ are transforming the way they do business by greening their supply chain. Irrespective of all the initiatives being taken however, road transport still remains the weakest link in the supply chain in South Africa.

South Africa has an extensive rail infrastructure and this used to be the preferred mode of transport for commuters and most industries. Due to poor management, low maintenance, security and punctuality failures, South Africa’s rail system has essentially failed, leaving it underutilised and unwanted.

Gautrain hopes to reintroduce the concept of fast, safe and reliable rail transport, albeit only for commuters. It is hoped that the Gautrain will be seen as a catalyst for convincing more people to switch to rail in future. Not only for commuter services but ultimately returning freight to the rail system – the green answer to our current logistical dilemma.

The Green Supply Chain Awards will establish a benchmark for evaluating and awarding those green supply chains that make a difference in South Africa. Whilst showing its commitment during the construction phase the Gautrain will surely set new standards during the operation phase and will continue to set its aim higher in searching for even better environmental performance.