Boosting bottle circularity: Carrier Harmonization Opportunities – Dutch Brewers Association



Company Name / Department Dutch Brewers Association
Contact Person

Eric Veldwiesch, Marco Willemars

Location Online, field work
Study programme(s)

Industrial Engineering

Community CDT
Start Date September 2023
Housing arranged by company No


160 EUR per month (based on a 18h week. If you work more hours, it’ll be higher). 

Company Description

The Dutch Brewers Association (Nederlandse Brouwers) is the branch organization for the biggest 14 brewers of the Netherlands. Together they produce 95% of all the beer for the Dutch market. Our most well-known members are Heineken, AbInbev, Grolsch and Swinkels Family Brewers, but also large MKB-companies like Gulpener, are member.

In the way to become a fully sustainable and circular sector, we are working together on sustainability topics of which circular packaging is an industry best practice. Together we run a system of refillable/ reusable glass bottles, the most sustainable packaging for the retail market.

Project Description


The Dutch beer market has a long tradition of circular supply chain cooperation. Since the introduction in 1985, brewers are sharing a commonly managed reusable bottle, the “BNR30cl”, with a capability of 40 reuses in its lifetime. As a result, the bottle return chain has been simple, effective and very sustainable. A packaging best practice to be proud of.

 The grown popularity of specialty beers has increased the number of different reusable bottles, and also the number of different reusable crates

Problem description

This diversifying reusable bottle and crate landscape is driving complexity in the return chain. The impact of increasing numbers of crates is big in the return chain, due to increased need for space, increased handling complexity, and avoidable (empty) crate movements.

As many crates are merely used as carriers that bring bottles / packs to the store, there is no specific need for these to have a unique branding, so there could be a potential to harmonize

This new strategic project aims to investigate this harmonization opportunity

Goals of the Project

Identify the opportunity to harmonize the ‘unbranded’ crate float of the Dutch Brewers, and recommending a (long term) implementation path to implement this harmonization.


An inventory of the current state
A description of the future state
A (long term) path from current to future state

Taking into consideration:

  • The current floats of crates, and their dimensions
  • The commercial requirements, in terms of pack types
  • The retail requirements in terms of pack sizes
  • The investment (and divestment) involved
  • The cost/benefit impact of a harmonized float, both at the brewers and the retailers

    Essential Student Knowledge

    FMCG, supply chain processes, affinity with retail store/DC processes, strong analytical (excel) and project management skills

    More information: