In late 2022, the Flemish Government decided to install a deposit system by 2025. Since Flanders has a high-performance collection system with the blue PMD bag, in order to build on the good sorting behavior of the Flemish people and to give innovation every opportunity, it was decided to test out digital deposit systems in the course of 2023. A public call resulted in 14 applications. Three organizations, at the suggestion of the specially created steering committee and after consultation with a broad sounding board group including environmental and consumer associations, were selected to test their technology in three different environments: DDRS Alliance, Unbox and Twintag - Verhaert - Cegeka. The three selected will be invited to submit a concrete project proposal to start pilot projects before summer. All projects should be completed by the end of 2023. The offer of Volvo Cars Gent (to act as test environment), Solucious (logistics expertise) and Cronos (digital vault) will also be taken into account to possibly integrate into one of the pilot projects at a later stage.
An OVAM public call for nominations closed on Febuary 15, 2023. Fourteen organizations proposed technologies, projects or test environments. A steering committee consisting of Comeos, Fevia, FostPlus, the VVSG, the Interregional Packaging Commission, the cabinet of Flemish Minister of Environment Zuhal Demir and the OVAM checked to what extent each proposer could contribute to the pilot project. This selection was also confirmed by the sounding board group with representatives from various stakeholders in the introduction of a (digital) deposit system, such as environmental and consumer associations.
Three technology proposals were retained:
-a partnership of the companies Twintag-Verhaert-Cegeka
-the company Unbox
-and the organization DDRS Alliance
Each of those selected will be asked to test their technology in three different places: in a closed environment in the second quarter of the year (e.g., a company, for example), a semi-open environment in the third quarter (e.g., a vacation park) and an open environment in the fourth quarter (e.g., a municipality).
In addition to these proposals, the offers of Volvo Cars Ghent (offer to act as test environment), Solucious (logistical expertise) and Cronos (digital safe) were also taken into account to possibly be integrated in one of the pilot projects at a later stage.
At the end of the year, the pilot projects should provide us with more insight into various operational aspects of the digital deposit, such as:
-what type of unique code do we use
-what type of application
-how should the cash flows run
-how should the participation in the digital deposit system be ensured
-what accompanying communication is needed
-and how do we build in respect for the privacy rules?
I am not married to any system. Therefore, this is not a dropout race between companies. We need to know with certainty that a digital system is workable before we resolutely go for it. The pilot projects serve to check which criteria all have to be ticked off in order to arrive at a well-functioning digital deposit system. That is what these pilot projects are for, - Flemish Minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir.
The steering committee is currently elaborating the roadmaps and protocols for the projects and will report quarterly to Flemish Minister of Environment Zuhal Demir, the Flemish Government and the Flemish Parliament on the progress of the pilot projects.