Colruyt and Delhaize – Night-time deliveries in Brussels, Belgium

Context of Transport Climate Action

Congestion in inner cities has a negative impact on the environment. It leads both to increased emissions of CO2, due to the increased stop and acceleration moments, and of air pollutants such as NOX and PM. To counter this negative effect, different innovations can be implemented, such as switching to other vehicle types, to zero-emission vehicles or using alternative schedules and routings.

Another measure that can be implemented is to shift the deliveries of the goods to moments outside peak hours. In that case, deliveries can reach the destination faster, more reliably and using less fuel. Two major Belgian food retailers, Colruyt and Delhaize, have performed a pilot with night-time deliveries in Brussels. Together, the two companies operate 39 supermarkets in the Brussels area.


Before starting the pilot, deliveries to shops of Colruyt and Delhaize in the Brussels area where only allowed within a time window ranging from early morning (7AM) to late evening (between 7PM to 10 PM). The two retailers expected that by extending the time window for deliveries, the logistics operation could become more effective and reliable. However, there were some unforeseen stumbling blocks from the fact that loading and unloading operations produce noise, which can be irritating for people living close, especially at night. The public authorities and the Brussels public service for environment and energy, in particular, needed to see the evidence of the effects of this shift in operations to be convinced and allow this practice to become more widespread.

The Colruyt and Delhaize aimed to demonstrate to two important stakeholders (the authorities and the local citizens) that it is possible to perform night-time deliveries without causing additional noise nuisance by investing in silent trucks, silent rolling stock and the education of truck drivers to work quietly. Apart from that, the demonstration also aimed to assess the real levels of noise nuisance that is experienced by the local citizens.


The demonstration took place at five sites (2 Colruyt and 3 Delhaize). Noise levels were measured at each site during a complete delivery routine, in line with the requirements of the Brussels public service for the environment and energy. The delivery routine was carried out between 8pm and 10pm using ‘silent’ trucks and equipment. Based on the results, the public service granted temporary permits to do a real night time demonstration over a period of two weeks. During that period, the five demonstration sites received deliveries during the night, early mornings or late evenings on a regular basis. Noise measurements were made for a period of four consecutive days.


  • Time gains because peak traffic can be avoided
  • Smoother operations at the distribution center due to a better spread of departures
  • Smoother and safer loading and unloading at the shop as it can be done before or after opening hours
  • A viable business case that can balance the cost reductions (time gains, fuel gains, etc.) and the increases in costs (labor costs, investment costs, etc.)
  • Reduced CO2, NOx and PM10 emissions of around 20%, 40% and 40% respectively
  • A positive impact on overall traffic safety and traffic congestion
  • No negative impact on noise

Potential for scaling up

Switching to night time deliveries can have a significant impact on peak traffic in inner cities. As this project shows, night time deliveries can be implemented without increasing the noise nuisances for local citizens. The concept can be copied to many cities and is especially applicable for larger companies.

Selected references



Belgium, Brussels






Europe, Belgium, Brussels, Freight, Trucks, Mitigation, Policy, Partnership



Ivan Van de Brul (Colruyt), Guy Van Kerckhove (Delhaize),