The Flemish government has decided today to step up the fight against litter with an innovative system: digital deposits. According to the companies that market packaged products, represented by Comeos, Fevia and Fost Plus, Flemish Minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir has thus opted for the easiest-to-use and most forward-looking solution to effectively combat litter. Comeos, Fevia and Fost Plus have also called on the governments of the Walloon and Brussels regions to move forward with the innovative digital deposit solution. The industry argues that digital deposits can and should be rolled out as soon as possible as part of an overall effort against litter.

Maintaining convenience for citizens

Companies selling packaged goods in our country have been committed to combating litter for years, but they now wish to set the bar even higher. Comeos, Fevia and Fost Plus, in collaboration with PwC, have therefore drawn up a feasibility study for an innovative digital deposit system relying on Belgium’s effective and unique recycling system. The study clearly shows that such a digital deposit system is both feasible and the best way to effectively combat litter, while maintaining the convenience and success of the blue bag for citizens. The innovative system means that the vast majority of consumers, who have carefully been putting their cans and bottles in the blue bag for 25 years, do not have to change their routine. In other words, with this decision, the Flemish government is making the convenience for citizens the central focus.

With a digital deposit system, each drinks packaging is assigned a value and a unique code. The deposit is paid at the time of purchase, and consumers can recover their deposits themselves after consuming their drink by scanning their empty packaging and the relevant bin, regardless of where and when the drink is consumed. Either a smartphone or a home scanner can be used for this. Consumers can thus prove that their packaging has been disposed of properly, whether at home in the blue bag or out and about in a public blue bin. The PwC study also confirms that several solutions are possible, including geolocalisation, to prevent fraud in this context.

Substantial investments for the packaging industry

As part of an integrated approach to combating litter, digital deposits could allow Belgium to stay at the top of the European rankings for the collection and recycling of drinks packaging. According to the PwC study, this is also the most effective and easy-to-use way for consumers to collect packaging for recycling that currently ends up as litter. Every household, every blue bag and every public blue bin will thus become a collection point for returnable bottles and cans. The digital deposit system is a flexible and modern solution to the contemporary problem of out-of-home consumption, which will also put us in the forefront of the fight against litter.

At the same time, Comeos and Fevia have pointed out that the implementation of this system requires a significant investment on the part of drinks packaging companies, which have contended with numerous taxes for years and have been hit hard by the cost of living crisis. The sector is willing to commit to supporting the rapid roll-out of digital deposits, but asks that this be done in consultation with the industries concerned, based on a coordinated overall approach that does not impose additional burdens on companies.

Download the feasibility study for the new digital deposit system.

For more information and further context, visit our project page – Every Packaging Counts.