2024 DRS Belgian caseAmong the various cases in the EU, Belgium stands out as a frontrunner in the effective management of packaging waste. The country has successfully implemented an EPR system for packaging since 1994, which is widely regarded as a success. Currently, there is ongoing debate regarding the implementation of a deposit return system (DRS) for single-use beverage packaging. The goal is to further enhance recycling and collection rates while addressing the persistent issue of litter. In its new report “Case study on introducing a deposit return system in Belgium”, ACR+ dives into the particular case of Belgium to understand why despite a decade-long discussion a clear vision on a potential DRS is yet to emerge.

This report accompanies “Deposit Refund Systems in the EU – 2023 Update”, published in December 2023. It brings elements to understand the question at the heart of the current debate: does the economic and social cost of introducing a deposit system outweigh the benefits in the particular Belgian context?

While the answer remains elusive, ACR+ exploration of the Belgian case shows how the lack of robust evidence hinders decisive political action and emphasises the necessity for a nuanced understanding of the elements involved. That serves as a case in point where clear and detailed information is essential to make a policy decision and prioritise the sometimes-conflicting interests of different stakeholder groups.

Why does this case deserve your special attention? Because it is an opportunity to discuss various aspects of this policy tool. By reading this report, you will understand not only the complex relationship between the existing EPR system and the planned DRS but also the importance of making data available as well as distributing well the costs and benefits among different stakeholders. Last but not least, you will also touch upon the idea of digital DRS.


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