Ready for the future thanks to natural refrigerants

On 11 March 2021, we signed the Green Deal 'Climate-friendly refrigeration' of the Flemish government. Goal of this initiative: reduce the use of harmful F-gases in supermarkets and food stores.

Belief in natural refrigerants

Our participation in this Green Deal confirms our belief in natural refrigerants. Because we've been focusing on reducing the number of cooling units with F-gases for a while now. On the one hand because the European regulation regarding this theme is becoming increasingly strict, but also because we think it's the only right choice to make.

The conversion to natural refrigerants is also one of the initiatives that ensure that our CO₂ emissions are reduced. We more than reached our goal to reduce our CO₂ emissions by 20% compared to 2008 (in proportion to revenue) by 2020, thanks to this conversion among other things.

Retailer, but also cooling company

"We sign this Green Deal as a retailer, but also as a cooling company", explains Peter Basteleus, Techniques department head. "Our team of engineers looks for the ideal solution in terms of refrigeration for each store, distribution centre, office building etc. Our own technicians maintain these refrigeration systems. We also develop AI models to detect leaks in our existing cooling units with F-gases more quickly for example. This internal knowledge and expertise ensures that we are able to respond to the needs of our store formats quickly and efficiently."

Project engineer Collin Bootsveld: "In 2012, we started up a study to examine the switch to natural refrigerants. For our stores, a system of compact chillers on propane seemed the best option. On 1 April 2021, 128 stores were already equipped with such an installation." Our aim is to equip all our Bio-Planet, Colruyt, OKay and OKay Compact stores with a cooling system without harmful F-gas by the end of 2029.

Necessary conversion

At first, a lot of parties had a lot of questions regarding propane cooling - the government for example. "We talked with them about this and have always been very transparent in how we use these new cooling systems. Because we were and are 100% convinced that the conversion to natural refrigerants is a necessity."

The conviction that it can and must be done better is deeply ingrained in our corporate culture. "We choose not to stand by and watch, but to roll up our sleeves and look for a solution. As the biggest retailer in Belgium, we owe this to our customers, our environment and ourselves", Peter decides.

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