Litter is a full-time job
In 2015 Colruyt Group started the five-year project "Together for less litter". Due to the positive experiences we had with this project, it has now been extended for another three years. Goedele Daems, project leader in our environmental service department, is working on reducing litter every day. She’s already implemented a lot of good things. We asked her about the state of play.
What are you doing about litter?
Goedele: “I lead projects about litter, manage everything and shape our activities. Of course for every initiative, I work with colleagues from other departments, with buyers or technicians from our technical department, or with employees from the different shop chains. "In 2017, for example, we introduced the Recycle: an electric tricycle that makes it easy to collect and sort waste at events. Over the past three years, this has proved to be a great success. Our partners Mooimakers, BeWaPP and Net Brussel took over the management at the beginning of 2020".
"Another successful initiative is the placement of waste islands. They are now located on every central site and on every car park of our Colruyt stores. “
Sustainable entrepreneurship is important to us. Reducing litter is part of that.
Why is Colruyt Group focusing on less litter?
Goedele: “We’re aware of the street litter problem. As a major social player and retailer, it’s our duty (at least we think it is) to tackle this problem. Moreover, sustainable entrepreneurship is important to us. Reducing litter is part of that.”
“Our commitment goes beyond just clearing up cans, waste paper and PET bottles. With our action plan 'Together for less litter', we really wanted to initiate a mindshift: among employees, customers, organisations, governments,... Today we see the positive effects of this. However, the corona crisis is creating new waste challenges. That is why we decided to extend the project for another three years."
And have our actions already been effective?
Goedele: “At the waste islands we are seeing nice results; our car parks are much cleaner now. An extra advantage is that it also saves time for the cleaning team or the shop team. In addition, we notice that there is generally more attention for less litter, and that our employees are also starting to take initiatives themselves. Of course, we are happy to encourage that. As for the Recycle: when we launched it, our five copies were fully booked for three months straight away! Since then, they have been used at all kinds of events and festivals. That was very nice."
“It’s always nice if we get into the press with this kind of initiative. That way, we can make it clear to a wider public what we’re doing. We set a good example and want to encourage others to take action.”
I would like to do more to raise awareness amongst our employees.
What else is in our action plan?
Goedele: “We’re also trying to get projects off the ground at a higher level. For example, we are the driving force behind several agreements between the business world, Flanders and Wallonia. Together, we are committed to reducing litter."
And how exactly does that process work?
Goedele: “The ‘Retail Clean Up Days’ in November 2016 was a very tangible activity. In total, 1,460 shops belonging to different retailers cleared up litter in their local area. In addition, we provide financial support to government action plans through the Comeos trade federation, Fost Plus and Fevia. As a sector, we donate to two litter organisations each year, 9.6 million euros to Mooimakers and 3.9 million euros to BeWaPP.”
"A more recent example is The Litter Challenge. Schools can make use of this programme to stimulate positive behavioural change around litter in their pupils in an interactive and creative way".
And how do you see the future?
Goedele: "The corona crisis has profoundly changed our reality, also in terms of litter. People want to get rid of potentially contaminated material quickly, so unfortunately the problem of litter is increasing again. That is why we have decided to extend the litter project by 3 years."
"A whole new action plan is currently being worked out for the next 3 years. I can't tell you much yet, but we're definitely going to work on a follow-up to The Litter Challenge and even more awareness raising for our own employees".Read more
Name: Goedele Daems
Function: Project leader in the environment service department
Job? • I coordinate all projects concerning street litter. I ended up in my job almost by chance, but I get a lot of satisfaction from it. Energy? • Travelling gives me a lot of energy. Best project? • The Recycle was a fun challenge. Many of my contacts work full time on festivals. Really nice!
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.