Inspirational interconnecting initiatives in Mechelen

26 January 2022 - Published by Deirdre Buist
The City of Mechelen is an active player on the European stage and involved in many international cooperation projects whereby sustainability and the livability of their city is a key driver. Besides being a valued partner in SURFLOGH and a range of green mobility projects, Mechelen also prioritizes social innovation initiatives. Within the ever expanding INTERREG network, connections are made, links become visible and…one thing leads to another.

Take the INTERREG2Seas project FLAVOUR (Food Surplus and Labour, the Valorisation of Underused Resources), for example. This is another  European collaboration in which the city is developing a project around social food distribution, food waste and social employment for an extensive area.   FLAVOUR aims to find new business models to make the interception and redistribution of surplus food viable - with environmental benefits.   A labour-intensive, flexible approach is needed to do so.

Mechelen is currently developing  a regional social food distribution platform called Foodsavers and stimulating joint cooperation between various platforms in the province.

Keeping cool

Until recently,  Foodsavers collected food surpluses  with refrigerated vans from a whole list of  donor companies, including Aldi, Metro and Colruyt Group, to name a few. The donated products -  of good quality and not yet over the date - are brought to a storage facility, sorted in cooling cells and prepared for delivery to different customers. Inspired by urban delivery initiatives from SURFLOGH, amongst others, this food collection and distribution service will now be carried out with cargo-bikes or delivery vans ...with cooling capacity. This cooling possibility is innovative and  results from a collaboration with Etheclo. It's a sustainability win-win!


Isothermal boxes

Etheclo produces isothermal boxes, offering flexible delivery opportunities for perishable goods and  perfectly suited for the job. Thanks to smart temperature sensors in the boxes, the Foodsaver couriers and the product donors/customers can check the temperature at any given moment. Moreover, with data monitoring temperature reports can be presented to third parties on request.


Again, one thing leads to another

In turn, the Province of Drenthe has also been inspired by the cool boxes from Etheclo, following initial introductions at the SURFLOGH event during the Faces of the Future Conference in Mechelen last September. Now, as part of the SURFLOGH project extension, Drenthe is developing a pilot to investigate the value of these cool boxes in combination with parcel lockers and the delivery of perishable goods. This is an exciting new trial; results potentially offer new logistics perspectives and sustainable  socio-economic opportunities for the market.

We’ll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, read more about:

The Interreg2Seas project FLAVOUR: Food surplus and Labour, the Valorisation of Underused Resources | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën (

Food distribution platform Foodsavers:
The isothermal boxes from Ethclo: