Old electronics given a new life

Everyone deserves a second chance – and that includes discarded household appliances like washing machines, tumble dryers and toasters. In March 2018, we stopped automatically sending them to Recupel to be recycled. Instead, they are collected by Le Plein Air; a centre that trains long-term unemployed as technicians who repair the old appliances, ready for a second life in the charity shop. Or, to put it another way: good for people and for the environment!

Repair or recovery

Since 2001, retailers of electrical goods in Belgium are obligated by law to take back old appliances. For example: if you buy a tumble dryer from Collishop, then our carrier will take your old one away free of charge. We collect these cast-offs of all sizes in our distribution centre in Pommerœul, near the city of Mons. In March 2018, we stopped automatically sending them to Recupel. Instead, we set aside appliances that look like they can be repaired, or which have parts that can still be used and the team from Le Plein Air comes every two to three weeks to collect them.

Collection by Le Plein Air
Between March and October 2018, around 100 large and 750 small discarded appliances were successfully restored by Le Plein Air.

Reintegration back into the workforce

Le Plein Air, a socio-professional reinsertion centre and part of CPAS Mons, offers training courses for people who want to rejoin the workforce after a long absence, or who have overcome a difficult period in their life. “Our aim is to spend a year teaching them as many professional skills as possible, to give them a springboard to a permanent job”, explains coordinator Christophe Miot. Eight interns are currently following the electrical fitter pathway. “Thanks to the collaboration with Colruyt Group, we are getting a lot more appliances to practice on, and they are also in better condition. Until recently, we often had to manage with appliances from the container park, or that had come straight from private individuals.”

Good for people and for the environment

It goes without saying that this example of the circular economy really helps the environment, but Colruyt Group is also making a contribution to society. “Where people’s lives have gone awry, we help them get back on track again. And the appliances that they restore then end up with the people that need them most. So, that’s twice the pleasure”, says Dominique Brouette, supervisor at the Colruyt Group distribution centre in Pommerœul. “The collaboration with Le Plein Air is running very smoothly. I have a really good feeling about it. It is a simple model that can act as an inspiration for other companies.”

Supervisor Dominique Brouette
“Where people’s lives have gone awry, we help them get back on track again. And that feels good”, says Dominique Brouette, supervisor at the Colruyt Group distribution centre in Pommerœul.

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Decent work & economic growth