Boosting bottle circularity – ABInBev 

Part II



Company Name / Department


Contact Person

Eric Veldwiesch, Marco Willemars


Online, field work

Study programme(s)


Community CDT
Start Date

February 2022

Housing arranged by company No



Company Description

Our member AbInBev and Heineken are part of the Dutch Brewers Association.

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 and effective for all players. A glass packaging best practice to be proud of.

From 2005, brewers have drifted away from the standard bottle and have introduced their own branded embossed bottles. Additionally the grown popularity of specialty beers, has increased the number of specialty beer bottles in the Dutch market. These bottles are generally common, yet have a bottle size and shape that is different from the BNR30cl.

Problem Description

The diversifying reusable bottle landscape is driving complexity in the return chain. The impact of increasing numbers of foreign bottles in crates is big: bottle losses have increased, cost of complexity is substantial for all parties of the return chain, due to the need to sort, separate and exchange bottles and crates. As a result the circularity of the system (although still a best practice) is under pressure.


    A program is running by the Dutch Brewers Association (NLB), addressing the 5 steps in the return chain: Consumer, Machine, Store, Return Distribution and finally intake and processing at breweries.
    Two bachelor BEP programs have run a problem definition, measurement and analysis phase on both the Consumer as well as store level. It is now time to take the analysis and preliminary recommendations to the next levels of final analysis, improvement and control.

    Project Objective & scope

    The objective of the program is to improve the return quality of bottles in crates, reducing non conformity by 50%. The scope of these two MSc projects will be ‘right first time’ bottle return, addressing the root cause of the issue.
    1/ By analysing further consumer research, and testing the impact of consumer communication
    (bottle/logo, crate, machine) on return behaviour and performance
    2/ By testing (DOE) different improvement measures at the store level, assessing the impact on
    performance at the return centre of the retailer, and concluding which factors have the best cost/benefit performance.

    More information:  


    logo AbInBev