Our engineers, architects and building professionals believe in closing material cycles: building in such a way that we recover as many products, materials and raw materials as possible to allow high-grade reuse or recycling.
Reducing waste streams
Colruyt Group owns and uses hundreds of buildings (stores, offices, production and distribution centres, etc.). This means we also have a major impact on how we build, renovate and manage our buildings. Every year, we carry out 30 to 40 construction and renovation projects. We want to reduce the consumption of primary raw materials to a minimum to allow reuse or high-grade recycling as much as possible, thus reducing the waste streams and ensuring fewer primary raw materials are used.
Built to Reuse
‘Built to Reuse’ is our motto when furnishing: in the design phase, we already think about how we will be able to reuse materials and raw materials at a later time. But of course, we already have a lot of materials and raw materials as well. This is why we drew up a list of more than 1,300 materials, components and raw materials that are currently used in our stores. Together with the project engineers, we look at how we can reuse these components after emptying a store. Some solutions are very creative. For example, we now use the lattices from our stores as facade finishes for green walls!
Reuse of building materials
Recycling is not so obvious for building materials due to the size, weight or the application. What about our synthetic insulation panels? The cellular concrete facade panels? This is why we created a structural overview of our most commonly used and impactful building materials (concrete, asphalt, roofing, etc.) and are conducting step by step research into new applications or how we can move from down-cycling to re-cycling. We also joined research projects such as the Iceberg European cooperation project (under Horizon2020) where we are studying the possibilities for reusing concrete.
New circular construction techniques
To be able to reuse even more in the future and ensure a more efficient process, we are also experimenting with new circular construction techniques. Ideally, the aim is standardised modular construction, where certain components can very easily be (dis)assembled like the pieces of a puzzle and reused. Imagine: if a shop is expanded, we simply remove the modular social spaces, like a prefab Lego block, and simply put them back on completion of the expansion. It would result in considerable savings in terms of materials, turnaround time and site costs. We are currently experimenting with circular facade systems, inner walls and floor systems.
Collaborations and research
Because we manage many buildings and do a lot of renovating and building, we're also a coveted partner for collaborations and research projects. Buildings have an environmental impact in several areas, including energy and climate, water, raw materials, biodiversity, etc. A circular economy works across all these themes. This is why we consciously and proactively collaborate in studies and market research, working closely with universities, research institutes such as VITO (Flemish Institute for Technology Research) and external partners. We are working toward a forward-looking, flexible and change-oriented way of working and a positive impact on society.