PRESS RELEASE: Lidl supermarkets in the Netherlands adopt new technology during COVID-19

The sustainable cleaning system revolutionizes the pandemic shopping experience

The Dutch Daily – (Business wire) – Nov. 01, 2020 Are you worried about getting infected by mandatory grocery shopping? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. According to a survey conducted during the pandemic in the United States [1], 60% of supermarket customers expressed that they are worried about in-store shopping. This led to 85% of people taking extra health precautions in public spaces and as a result, supermarket chains with lower hygiene standards started to lose their customers.

This trend might be reversed by the new technology adopted by Lidl, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the Netherlands. Being ranked the dirtiest supermarket chain by local students (sample size: 34), Lidl has suffered a lot since the beginning of this pandemic. This new technology is called Grabby—an additional, clean handlebar for trolleys and baskets.

 “People don’t clean the trolleys by themselves and hiring a person to clean the handlebars of carts in front of the supermarket costs over 3500€ per month.” said Jos van Jansen, manager of a local Lidl chain, “One set of Grabby costs less than 3000€.” Grabby is also adaptable. Jos does not need to change the set of baskets and trolleys in the store, because Grabby fits anywhere.

“We want the sustainable way.”

Jos said. It is not only about the cost. As more and more people start to care about the environment, sustainability became the new trend in the business world. For every trolley or cart, at least 30cm of paper towel is needed for cleaning. That is 3 kilometers of paper towels per supermarket per week.

While being one of the biggest supermarket chains in the Netherlands, Lidl has never had a name in the sustainability world. By the cooperation with Grabby, Jos is aiming to reverse this trend.

“Inside the box, UV-C light sterilizes Grabby. You just need to plug the box in, they don’t even consume that much electricity.”

What did the customers say?

Most customers are delighted by the new technology. They said that the centralized cleaning system makes them feel safer. Moreover, a lot of people expressed their dislike towards the old way of spray cleaning. “I hate those old sprays, they smell like pee.” said 22 year old John. “Finally I don’t need to have sticky hands anymore.”

Although being introduced as a new system, the way of using Grabby seems easy to be picked up by the customers. Even elderly customers are adapting to the new way of pushing their shopping carts. Some customers expressed worries about the change in navigation before their shopping. However, the majority of them did adjust quickly. “You can put the handle horizontally. It is easier this way.” said a lady, pushing her trolley with one hand, “See, it’s the same, you are just 10 centimeters away from the old handle bar.”

8 years old Jessica loves shopping with her mom. “She is too big to sit in the chair, but too short to reach the trolley. This little girl always wants to participate, she always want to help mama. Right? Sweetie?” Jessica’s mom looked at her daughter.

She was delighted by the design of Grabby. “The shop assistant taught me to rotate the bar so that she can reach it. Now she feels big and important because she can finally help me.” Said Jessica’s mother with a big smile.

The team behind this innovation consists of two science students from Utrecht University. “After observing that the cleaning stations at supermarkets are barely used, we were shocked. With the knowledge of how rapidly germs spread in public places and the ongoing threat of COVID-19, we knew there had to be another solution and we were determined to find it.” Explains Jinglun Li, cofounder of Grabby. Together with Laila Kestem, she worked on finding a solution which will prevent infections from touching shopping cart handlebars in the long run. “We are proud to contribute to increased health and sustainability with Grabby, even targeting four Sustainable Development Goals! With Grabby, your shopping experience won’t be crappy!”




Grabby is an attachable, clean handlebar for supermarket trolleys and baskets, making grocery shopping clean and safe even in times of a pandemic!




People get sick from germs and cannot pursue their daily activities. Germs can spread rapidly through inevitable contact with surfaces in public spaces such as supermarkets. The invisible nature of germs makes the spreading of diseases hard to avoid and prevent. The handles of shopping carts are a major source for germ transmission and can be used as a model for frequently touched surfaces.


Our solution will target supermarket owners who want to make the shopping experience safer and more enjoyable for their customers which is expected to increase their revenue.


  1. Grabby is an add-on. It does not require supermarket owners to change their original set of shopping trolleys.
  2. Grabby is designed to fit all universal handlebars including all types of trolleys and shopping baskets in a supermarket.
  3. The cost of Grabby is lower than 3 weeks of cleaning staff employment costs.
  4. Grabby does not consume a lot of electricity (two UV-C lights consume the same amount of energy as a fridge at home).
  5. Grabby can be installed anywhere with a plug. 
  6. Grabby is easy to use for supermarket customers.
  7. Grabby does not require any additional supplies (one-time purchase).
  8. The clipping mechanism in Grabby is based on the technology used in a pair of arterial forceps, and therefore tested and reliable. 
  9. The rotatory handle of Grabby fulfills a variety of user requirements.
  10. Grabby is an incremental design, it is psychologically easy for the users to accept.
  11. Grabby stays in the supermarket. It allows the use of personal hygienic handlebars without the supermarket customers having to carry anything on their own.


  1. Helping supermarket owners to provide a sense of safety for their customers.
  2. Reducing waste of single-use wipes and papers.
  3. Reducing the use of chemical spray sanitizer, protecting the local microbiome.
  4. Saving money for the supermarket in the long run.
  5. Helping supermarkets to be more handicap-friendly and child-friendly.
  6. Bringing a new trend and topic to the shop to attract customers.
  7. Reducing the germ spreading in the local community, contributing to public health.


In the special time of the pandemic, more and more people are aware of and are willing to take hygiene practices. This creates a really big potential market for Grabby. According to our market research, an adaptable handlebar cleaning system does not exist in the market yet. 

Our primary customers are medium to big sized supermarket owners in the Netherlands. If the Grabby system runs well, it can be adopted by any supermarket in the world. Other potential applications for the Grabby system are in public transportation or hospitals. 

The estimated cost of the product: (cost of one set of the Grabby system when a total of 50 sets are produced)


Component EUR
UVC unit A36 | Complete | 36 watts € 99.95
Plastic injection moulding* € 2 x 100
Metal moulding* [1] € 1.90 x 100
Metal box € 15
Wiring  € 10
Smart dispensary system € 2000
Total: € 2514.95

*average cost of one set of Grabbies if 5000 sets (for 50 supermarket installations) are produced




Grabby provides increased safety and health to supermarket customers by reducing the risk of infection.




This innovation will increase resource efficiency and communal resilience.




The sustainability in supermarkets, which take a big role in urban environments will be enhanced.




The reusable Grabby system supports sustainable consumption and production.




Our team consists of 2 enthusiastic master students who aim to make a difference in this world with our passion for sustainability. Both,Jinglun Li and Laila Kestem major in Bio-Inspired Innovation at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Their specializations span across molecular biology, chemistry, design, and neurosciences. They use their scientific knowledge, inspired by nature, to create sustainable solutions.




Categories: TEAM


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