The future through innovative glasses
VR glasses, for example! With these, our retail designers can get to the heart of their design and make it even better. But even without glasses, we always aim to be innovative. This is how we want to respond sustainably to our constantly evolving society. Searching for the right balance between technology, production and a liveable environment. Being a profitable company is not enough. We believe it is important to have a positive impact on people and the environment as well. For years, we have been investing in innovations that benefit our customers, our employees and the environment. With these efforts, big and small, we want to make a difference together. Step by step.
Innovative, in our stores...
You have probably seen them rolling through our aisles: the liquid ice containers (LIC), our environmentally-friendly refrigerated and frozen food trolleys that keep our cold products chilled with liquid ice during transport. Our own Research & Development department developed the container and perfected the technology. The LIC is 73 % more climate-friendly than an ordinary refrigerated trolley. Moreover, the liquid ice is made using green electricity from wind and solar power, thus avoiding CO2 emissions.
You want your vegetables to stay crunchy as long as possible? And make sure no delicious spread is lost in the corners of your jar? Fair enough... so do we! Because this is how we prevent food from ending up in the rubbish bin. Therefore, we are looking into how to avoid food losses as much as possible. These innovative designs for our spreads, chicory packaging and avocados can already be found on our shop shelves.
.. and behind the scenes
In order to respond even better to our customers’ demands, we developed a brand new forecasting model that uses artificial intelligence (AI). “Thanks to the smooth interaction between man and machine, we can very efficiently predict the quantity of products needed to supply our stores,” says Kevin Aerts, data scientist at Colruyt Group. “Our model takes into account common trends, but also additional variables such as the influence of a sunny weekend or even the European Football Championship!”
We were the first retailer in Belgium to develop our own vertical farm. We grow plants in rows on top of each other there. A cultivation technique that requires 90 % less water than conventional cultivation, 20 times less space and 50 % less nutrients. The quality remains high throughout the year, regardless of the weather conditions. In addition, the use of treated rainwater, the economical LED lighting and the innovative ventilation system make our farm very energy-efficient. And the plant runs on 100 % green electricity! After two years of testing, Bio-Planet started selling Boni basil from our vertical farm in 2020. Sustainable herbs, that tastes good!
By 2025, Colruyt Group wants 50 % of its total water consumption to come from treated waste and rainwater. To achieve this goal, our technical department is building another water treatment plant. It will treat the wastewater from our Wilgenveld, Elbeek and Dassenveld sites, three locations in Halle that together account for a quarter of our group’s water consumption. The rainwater at Dassenveld will also be collected. This will reduce our city water demand at those locations by 90 % from 2022 onwards. Each year, the plant will purify as much as 90,000 m³ of waste water into 81,000 m³ of drinking water.
There are already three water treatment plants at Fine Food Meat. Such as the PURA (PUrification of RAinwater) plant. It goes beyond the rainwater buffers on our other sites and purifies the rainwater collected into drinking water.”Ysaline Thillaye du Boullay, project engineer Water at Colruyt Group
Full of (green) energy!
CNG, electric charging stations, hydrogen ... DATS 24 has been a pioneer in sustainable mobility in our country for years. This mission also extends to the maintenance and construction of the petrol stations. They are cleaned with locally collected rainwater and biodegradable products, while also using dimmable LED lighting and CO2 neutrally produced wipes. The energy producer and supplier has recently made self-produced green electricity accessible to everyone. And with a book full of tips, DATS 24 wants to help consumers save energy. Good for your budget and the environment!
Hydrogen, the sustainable fuel of the future. Because hydrogen-powered machines only emit water vapour. No CO₂, soot or particulates. We have been producing our own sustainable hydrogen from renewable energy from wind turbines and solar panels since 2012. We store these in our hydrogen station and then use them as fuel. For our hydrogen powered pallet trucks and forklift trucks, for example. And that's not all: the plant also works as a buffer to store surplus green energy as hydrogen and use it later. We firmly believe in the potential of this renewable fuel and will continue to invest in it. This includes the opening of additional public hydrogen refuelling stations, as well as the testing of a 44-tonne hydrogen truck.
Some of our engineers are passionate about hydrogen. They wanted to test whether we could make hydrogen from the electricity of a windmill in Halle. Two years later, the facility is there. It really makes the pride in the organisation tangible."Jef Colruyt, CEO of Colruyt Group
Down to the sea!
At Colruyt Group we are working on projects to cultivate Belgian mussels on a commercial scale. At a later stage, oysters and seaweed will also be grown. “Growing mussels, oysters and seaweed in the North Sea on such a scale has never been done before,” says Stefan Goethaert, director quality and production at Colruyt Group. “After previous test projects, we know that this will not be easy given the rough conditions and the currents in the Belgian North Sea. That's why we're doing it step by step.” We want to be able to offer Belgian mussels in our stores in 2023. We expect the sea farm to provide many insights and contribute to innovation in the Belgian aquaculture and food sector.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.