TU.1.D || Life Cycle Thinking in Companies and Organizations

Van Hemelryck, Steven; Adibi, Naeem; McHardy, Cara; Voorend, Wannes

Colruyt Group conducted the first Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for its wine bottling plant 20 years ago. Since then, the company has made significant steps to mainstream decision making based on sustainability. Yearly carbon footprinting since 2008 (Greenhouse Gas Protocol) engages the company to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Life cycle impacts are increasingly mapped out to stimulate improvement actions. Colruyt Group collaborates with industrial partners, knowledge institutions, governments and stakeholders, e.g. the development of Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules for Retail (European Commission 2013-2018). LCM toolboxes are developed to support the company in this pathway, and the R&D&I department quantifies and validates sustainability efforts. For example, a fuel matrix was developed to evaluate quantitative and qualitative sustainability aspects of fuel-vehicle combinations. A similar scoring system ranks renewable energy sources for electricity production. A tool for analysing business parks’ biodiversity value assesses renovation projects. Decision-making screening LCAs are carried out in-house for alternative packaging, building materials etc. For all R&D&I projects, a full LCA is carried out based on primary data. Whereas the first LCA studies took place at the end of the project to support the project communication (e.g. liquid ice refrigerated containers), the new generation of LCA studies are conducted at the start of projects to support decision making (e.g. vertical farming & aquaculture). The transition from merely executing LCA to an integrated eco-design approach delivers more sustainable products over the value chain. In 2021, an Eco-Score was launched based on product LCA and criteria such as biodiversity, origin, packaging and certificates. Life cycle thinking was given time to grow within several departments and is now mainstreamed in the organisation. Evolution at the R&D level is also followed up, tested and implemented.