Brussels tries out machines for empty drinks cans

Consumers will be paid for each empty drinks can they place in designated machines under a project launched on Monday by the Brussels Region.

Under the project, three public places will be equipped during a first six-month phase with machines where, for each discarded can, people will receive a five-cent coupon redeemable at a Good Food supermarket or partner restaurant or bar.

The project was developed at the initiative of Environment Minister Céline Fremault and the Secretary of State for Public Hygiene, Fadila Laanan, in partnership with Fost Plus, the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and Brussels City Council. Its aim is to reduce the number of beverage cans littering the environment.

Three machines will be installed on the Solsbosch campus in front of the Paul Héger Avenue at Ixelles, on the Alma site of the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and at the Place de la Monnaie at the Brussels City Hall. They are simple to operate: place one or more can in the machine and receive the corresponding number of five-cent coupons in return. The list of participating businesses will eventually be posted on the website Each machine can hold up to 4,500 cans.

The system will be tried for at least six months during which can volumes and cleanliness will be tested to measure its impact on the ground. The tests will seek to verify whether such a method can reduce the quantity of cans littering public spaces thanks to an improve method of disposing of the empty cans of beverages consumed on the go.

The Place de la Monnaie site will also be the subject of a study by the Brussels Muncipality and the city’s hygiene department, as part of the project. The garbage collected in the area will be analysed on four occasions. This analysis, along with the experience of the municipality’s hygiene staff, will enable the impact of the installation to be assessed.

A second location outside the city centre is also to be designated soon.

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