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Reuse: Digital empowers circular economy

Source: Envato Elements

Reuse: Digital empowers circular economy 

Thomas Reiner | 13.07.2021

The start-up Good Goods is launching an incentive-driven deposit system for wine bottles in New York. The barcode of the bottle is scanned and a QR code is sent to the customer’s smartphone. The next time wine is purchased, this code can be used for a $2 discount. Systems for reuse are strongly on the rise as a central point of packaging strategies. Digitalisation makes it possible.


A new incentive-driven deposit program to reuse wine bottles is launching in New York this year. The startup, Good Goods, is using it to encourage customers to return their Good Goods-compatible wine bottles to the point of sale. In return, they will receive a $2 discount on their next wine purchase.

The promotion runs via bar codes, QR codes and customers’ smartphones. For one thing, it shows that reuse systems are increasingly entering the market. This is not surprising, as they are playing an increasingly important role in the packaging design strategy of many brands. On the other hand, the example shows that digital transformation has become a significant driver of the circular economy. And the trend is upward.


The Good Goods Initiative

  • By scanning the barcode of the empty wine bottle, a QR code is sent to the customer’s smartphone upon return, offering them a $2 discount on their next wine purchase.
  • Currently, New York retailers Henry’s Wine and Spirits, Gotham Wine and Liquor, The Gilded Grape and The Natural Wine Company are participating in the program. The startup plans to roll out its model nationwide by the end of 2021.
  • The new incentive-driven deposit program was developed by Zach Lawless, founder of the “Fresh Bowl” vending machine that uses reusable containers.
  • For participating retailers, added value comes in particular from the ability to provide personalized offers to customers. However, it is also useful to compare performance with the success figures of other affiliated retailers.
  • According to Good Goods data, standardized bottles perform well in program participants’ sales.



The start-up Good Goods was inspired by the European model of returnable bottles and the incentive-driven deposit system. The fact that the wine market was chosen as the starting point for the initiative is due to the particularly large number of standardized bottles in this segment.

Around 4.3 billion wine bottles are sold worldwide every year. Within the USA, New York is the third largest wine-producing state. Up to now, the only wine sold here has been single-waste. This is now set to change.


Digital brings added value for reusable bottles

It is not clear whether and to what extent Good Goods will be successful with its campaign. Regardless of this, the idea is still the right one.

In the packaging strategies of many brands, reusable and recyclable models are playing an increasingly important role in establishing a circular economy. The possibilities of digital transformation in particular make it possible to rethink reuse and recycling. Digital is becoming the enabler of Circular Economy in this area as well.

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