Digital deposit in Belgium: consumers, retailers, cows and environment are looking forward to it


Handing in empty, dirty and uncrushed bottles and cans yourself at the store is cumbersome for consumers, expensive for merchants and harmful to livestock and the environment due to litter. Eight pilot projects are underway in Belgium to find out which digital deposit collection system is the most feasible and user-friendly.

It was spearheaded by the large business campus Corda Campus in Hasselt, and now it is the turn of the KBC headquarters in Leuven. Both a closed environment. A semi-open environment, such as a holiday park, will follow in the third quarter, and finally an open environment, such as a city or town, in the fourth quarter. In particular, the government and the federations for the Belgian trade, services and food industry will oversee the pilot projects. The Walloon government, in turn, has ordered a study for the potential scenarios for deposits.

How will the collection work? Well, each can and bottle is given a unique code. After your consumption, you scan it with an app on your smartphone, along with the code on the rubbish bin where you deposit the beverage container. Then, the system returns your deposit digitally.

The test results are currently being awaited with hope. Either way, a digital system is preferable. More convenient for the consumer, cheaper for the retailer who does not have to install machines for empties and better for livestock and the environment, due to less litter. So everybody wins.