Effective Return Chain Information Exchange – Dutch Brewers Association – BEP project



Company Name / Department Dutch Brewers Association
Contact Person

Eric Veldwiesch, Marco Willemars

Location Online, field work
Study programme(s)
Community CDT
Start Date August 2023
Housing arranged by company No


160 euro 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 Reusable Bottle is a best-in-class example of Circular Packaging. With a bottle trip rate of 15-20x, the use of shared bottles and a reusable carrier (the beer crate) as outer packaging, this is a very sustainable way of bringing a beverage into the home of our consumers. Diversification in choice and channels is changing the crate/bottle landscape, the complexity has increased significantly. Recent addition of other pack types in the return chain (deposit on cans, PET bottles) is putting pressure on the return chain, in terms of space and return transport efficiency.

Problem description:

This diversifying reusable bottle and crate landscape is driving complexity in the return chain. The cost (and speed loss) of complexity is significant. As a result the circularity of the system (although still a best practice) is under pressure.

There is currently no standard way of communicating inventory of crates to be returned, between retailers and the brewers transportation planning departments, leading to a mix of different exchange of information, to a speed loss, an information loss and eventually to return transport inefficiencies, surplus inventory and slower bottle/crate rotation.

This project aims to simplify the information flow between the retail return centres and the location of the breweries.

Goals of the Project

The objective of the full program is to simplify the information flow in the beer crate return chain in order to enable return transport optimization, improve rotation and reduce stock levels.


An inventory of the process, the currently available and required information, the standards available and required to exchange information, to determine the best way forward to exchange information by EDI. Additionally a recommendation toward potential solutions to safely share the information between (transport) players in the return chain.

Essential student knowledge

FMCG, supply chain processes, strong analytical (excel) and project management skills

More information: escf@tue.nl 




Dutch Brewers Association