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Washing thousands of cars with rainwater – how WeBuyCars maintains standards while focusing on water savings

Washing thousands of cars with rainwater – how WeBuyCars maintains standards while focusing on water savings

Based on the view that every company has an obligation to constantly increase sustainability efforts, WeBuyCars has installed a rain-harvesting system to wash thousands of vehicles, thus dramatically reducing its reliance on municipal water.

The initiative, which was piloted at WeBuyCars in February 2018 after moving into new premises in Midstream, Gauteng, has subsequently been rolled out at Silver Lakes (Pretoria East), Brackengate (Cape Town) and Phumela Park (Cape Town). The Southgate (Johannesburg) and the new Durban branch will have systems in place towards the end of 2020.

It means that the branches where rain-harvesting systems have been installed are completely self-sufficient and can stay completely off the water grid during the rainy season.

“Our primary objective is to harvest as much water as possible during the rainy season.  Simply put, we have water reservoirs connected to the downpipes from the gutters so all water from the roofs flows into the reservoirs. These connect to the high-pressure system in the wash bay via a pressure pump that helps force the water into the system,” says John Mills, chief operating officer at WeBuyCars.

He says the water is 100% safe to use for car washing and an integrated filtration system makes sure no dirt contaminates the water.  WeBuyCars aims to have 120 000 litre storage available at each branch, which means approximately 18 000 cars can be washed each rainy season.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint how much we have saved in municipal water costs as prices vary from district to district. But this was not about saving money – our goal was to be cognisant of our responsibility as a business to save as much water as possible without compromising our standards.  Anyone who has visited one of our warehouses will know that every car is gleaming, so we needed to maintain those standards while upping our contribution to sustainability.”

“Companies need to take a stance on renewable energy and saving resources.  For us, the most obvious element pointed to water saving and we’d like to think that we are ahead of curve in our sector,” Mills says.