Domestic appliances collected by Colruyt Group are given a new life through socio-professional integration centre "Le Plein Air"

Today, Walloon Minister Carlo Di Antonio (Environment, Ecological transition and Mobility) paid a visit to the repair workshops for used domestic appliances in Jemappes. In March 2018, Colruyt Group and socio-professional integration centre (CISP) “Le Plein Air”, run by the CPAS (Public Social Services Centre) of Mons, established a service for processing used domestic appliances collected from customer homes by the distributor or returned to the store. These appliances pass through the Plein Air workshop, where they are repaired by apprentices and their tutors before being offered for sale in second hand charity shops. In the March-October 2018 period, around 100 “large white goods” and 746 small domestic appliances were given a new lease of life. A circular economy model with both social and environmental benefits.

Reuse

Colruyt stores and the online Collishop sell domestic appliances and are therefore obliged to collect used appliances from their customers. These appliances are sent to Recupel containers, responsible for their recycling. “We believe in a circular economy”, explains André Giglio, regional director of Colruyt. “But more than this, we believe in repairing goods for reuse. Reuse is the second step on the Lansink ladder, a hierarchy of recommended waste treatment solutions. With this in mind, we began looking for companies that could repair domestic appliances collected from customers’ homes. ”

Via RESSOURCES*, the group met the team at Le Plein Air Socio-professional Reinsertion Centre, a service provided by Mons CPAS, which offers an appliance reconditioning and installation training. Together, the parties established a system for the collection of appliances salvaged by the Colruyt Group and gathered at the Pommerœul distribution centre, located around fifteen kilometres from the centre. Christophe Miot, coordinator at Le Plein Air: “Until now, we often had to make do with appliances discarded in container parks or donations from individuals. This collaboration enables us to improve our training through a steady flow of collected goods, which are generally in better condition. Those which cannot be repaired are dismantled for spare parts, while the remainder go to Recupel. Ultimately, we are an intermediate step in the conventional supply chain, but we add a great deal of value.” To date, around 220 large white goods and 24 box pallets of small appliances have passed through the centre. Following repair, 100 large and 746 small domestic appliances went on sale in charity shops “Le Grenier aux trouvailles” and “Re-trouvailles”, as well as in the Recytroc project window display at “Au Comptoir des Possibles”.

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Walloon Minister Carlo Di Antonio has granted a subsidy of 515,410 euros to Mons CPAS in order to launch project ‘Recytroc’. This service picks up bulky waste and reusable objects at home. With this decision, the Minister wants to support the aim to reduce waste in Wallonia and to give old waste a new destination, with the Colruyt Group initiative as leading example.

Integration

The Le Plein Air centre provides training for the long-term unemployed and people from difficult backgrounds. “The aim of this training is to provide them, in one year, with professional skills that represent a springboard into the labour market”, continues Christophe Miot. At present, there are eight apprentices in this specific training, split evenly between “large white goods” (washing machines, dishwashers, tumble driers, refrigerators, etc.) and small appliances. They receive guidance from tutors who have been trained in the latest techniques by the major manufacturers, and two workers employed under “article 60”. 

In addition to the environmental benefits, Colruyt Group is also contributing to a social enterprise. “We aim to provide additional social and environmental benefits, by using economy as a driving force for positive development”, confirms André Giglio. “Our cooperation with around 110 CPAS on the project “À table pour 1, 2, 3 euros”, our partnership with the Food Banks and the training programmes for young people in Belgium and developing countries under the Collibri Foundation are just a few examples among many. In this case, the simplicity of the model and its implementation should serve as an inspiration to other businesses.”

* RESSOURCES:  federation of social economy companies active in the reduction of waste through collection, reuse, recovery and recycling of resources using a circular economy dynamic.

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Colruyt Group operates in the food and non-food distribution sector in Belgium, France and Luxembourg with approximately 550 own stores and over 580 affiliated stores. In Belgium this includes Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby and the affiliated stores Spar and Spar Compact. In France, in addition to Colruyt stores, there are also affiliated Coccinelle, CocciMarket and Panier Sympa stores. The group is also actively involved in the foodservice business (supply of food products to hospitals, company canteens and catering businesses) in Belgium (Solucious). The other activities comprise the sale of fuel in Belgium (DATS 24), printing and document management solutions (Symeta) and the production of green energy. The group employs over 29.300 employees and recorded a EUR 9,0 billion revenue in 2017/18. Colruyt is listed on NYSE Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN code BE0974256852.

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