New deposit system! Since April 1st, a deposit of 15 cents is charged on all cans sold in the Netherlands. Empty cans can be handed in at about 5,000 supermarkets. There are also about 22,000 other collection points such as gas stations, NS stations and sports clubs. The measure follows the deposit on small plastic bottles, introduced in 2021.
DEPOSIT SYSTEM ON PLASTIC BOTTLES
Since July 1, 2021, consumers pay 15 cents extra for bottles of less than a liter of water or soda. Some 900 million of these bottles are sold every year. To prevent these bottles from ending up as litter on the streets or in nature, the deposit was introduced. The result so far:
More than 80 percent of all plastic bottles sold, large and small, are handed in for deposits. This is still below the cabinet goal of 90 percent in 2022 (Source: Statiegeld Nederland).
The number of plastic bottles in litter has dropped by nearly 70 percent since the introduction of the deposit system (Source: NOS).
POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE DEPOSIT SYSTEM
Add more return machines.
Increase the deposit. 15 cent is too low an incentive for some people.
Make the deposit mandatory for all small bottles (producers are currently required to charge a deposit on water and soft drinks, while juice and dairy do not have to).
Accept damaged bottles and cans (in this way, picking them up from the street is karma + a financial reward).
Customize bins in public spaces, to accomodate for cans and bottles (see example below from Denmark)
According to Milieu Centraal, approximately 150 million cans were littered in the Netherlands in 2021. We are happy with the new despoit system and we hope from now on cans will be less frequently dumped on the street and in nature.
For those who want to hand in cans: don’t crush them! The bar code must be legible and a smashed can will not be accepted by the machine.
Plastic packaging is a large and growing part of our daily household waste. There are many options to reduce your daily waste. A nice way is to shop at (plastic) packaging-free stores, also called bulk stores. The food is stored in large containers and you fill your own jars or bags. We visited De Bio Markt / Le Marché Bio des Tanneurs in Brussels, Belgium.
DE BIO MARKT TANNEURS / LE MARCHÉ BIO DES TANNEURS, BRUSSELS
When entering the store, we immediately got excited. The building itself is very spacious with colourful wall paintings. First stop: the fuits and vegetables. Mainly organic and seasonal products, straight from the field!
The shopping continues with cheese and the (vegan) milk and yoghurt section. Then we arrive in the best part: the containers. Here you can find most basic ingredients: pasta, flower, rice, various nuts and seeds, all stored in large containers. We also love the oil refill corner and the herbs.
HOW TO SHOP IN A BULK STORE?
Do I need to bring my own jars and bags? Visiting a bulk store works best with a little preparation. Bring your own jars, small bags or boxes and large shopping bag. But no worries, there are paper bags available in the store. For the (olive) oil you can make use of glass bottles.
Glass jars are heavy. How is the price calculated? At the check-out, the weight of the jar is deducted from the total weight. Tip: if you bring your own glass jars, write down its weight with a permanent marker.
Is everything in a bulk-store packaging-free? Not necessarily. In this store, some food is pre-packed, either in cardboard, glass or plastic. For example dairy products and honey. We even spotted 1.5 L single-use water bottles, which we found a bit strange. But overall, you can buy most stuff packaging-free. A huge improvement compared to regular supermarkets.
Is it expensive?Well, this depends of course on the type of food that you buy. Many times you will save money, because you do not fill your basket on automatic-pilot. Plus it allows you to buy only the amount you need!
MORE BULK STORES IN BRUSSELS
The store we visited is located in the Huidevettersstraat 58 / rue des Tanneurs 58 in Brussels. They also have stores in Gent and Antwerpen. In this website, you can find a list of other packaging-free stores in Brussels.
ZERO WASTE INSPIRATION
We are looking forward to hear your experience with packaging free stores. Interested in this topic? Try one of the following reads:
When travelling, you easily use a dozen single-use plastics per day. Coffee-cups to go, plastic bags, plastic water bottles, plastic straws, plastic toiletries, etc. Spain and single-use plastics go hand in hand. But there is light in the end of the tunnel. During our research trip in Seville we found some great plastic-free shops and restaurants. We’ll tell you all about it!
This beautiful store has everything you need to carry food and beverages. Also a wide range of wooden toothbrushes, soaps and cloth diapers. The founder Sonia Sánchez explained us all about their product assortment and vision. Definitely worth a visit (check the opening hours first), as the neighbourhood is really nice too. Don’t miss out on Mercado de Feria, next door Palacio Marqueses de la Algaba, or the free Flamengo nights in Taberna Gonzalo Molina.
Located in the same street as El Jarillo Lata, this vegan restaurant has tasty vegan food that comes with a bonus: free chilled tap water. The water tap is connected to the beer tap’s cooling system. We’ve seen this in more bars and really like this. So don’t hesitate to ask for a cold glass or bottle refill. Water with gas is served in glass bottles.
Located in a cute market (Mercado del Arenal), this place has delicious cakes, pastries and main dishes. And lots of tea. You will not find any single-use plastic bottles here, Veganitessen is happy to provide you a fresh refill from the tap (self-service).
READY TO EXPLORE?
Our little plastic-free detour has brought us to some beautiful places outside the main attractions. You can be part of the change. Fill your durable bottle when you leave the hotel. Ask for refills in the bar, restaurant or use a refill app to find the nearest refill point. Be pro-active and you can manage to travel without plastic bottles in Spain. Buena suerte.