90 % reduction in greenhouse gases by switching to natural coolants in our refrigeration installations
Just like the fridge in your home, the refrigeration installations in our fresh produce department and butcher counters use coolants in a closed circuit. Small gas leaks are impossible to avoid, which is why our engineers have been hard at work since mid-2013 on refrigeration installations that use natural coolants, such as propane. These emit about 90 % less greenhouse gases over their lifetime than conventional coolants. Project engineer Collin Bootsveld works hard every day to make sure that by 2030, all our supermarkets will be equipped with these new refrigeration installations. This means that in Belgium, we will emit 11 % less CO2 compared to our total CO2 emissions in 2015.
Keep it cool!
“With the old refrigeration installations in our stores, we used synthetic coolants, which contribute to global warming,” says Collin. “That’s why we started looking for a sustainable alternative, and decided on natural coolants, such as propane and CO2. Propane emits about 90 % less greenhouse gases than synthetic coolants. Moreover, the new propane refrigeration installations contain up to 30 times less coolant and have fewer leaks.”
European directives stipulate that from 2020 onwards, refrigeration installations using the current synthetic coolant can no longer be installed. We didn’t wait that long. Since September 2016, we have been installing refrigeration installations that use natural coolants in all new and refurbished Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay and Bio-Planet stores. From 2030 onwards, synthetic coolants can no longer be added if a conventional refrigeration installation has a leak. By then, we want to be in a position where all our stores have switched to refrigeration installations that use natural coolants.
Cooling and heating, working hand in hand
In 2017, all our older stores started undergoing energy-saving renovations. For every store we own, we plan to increase insulation and airtightness. This will reduce the need for heating and we will be able to heat stores using the residual heat from refrigeration installations. If necessary, we will supplement this with a heat pump or additional heating using green electricity. “That way, we'll have fossil fuel-free stores that don’t use natural gas or fuel oil, and once again, we'll emit less greenhouse gases," adds Collin. So it's a win-win situation! Click here to read more about our ambitions for low-energy stores.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.