Applicability of SMART camera technologies for the quality control of reusable packaging

Smart Camera


Reusable packaging is an important pillar in the strategy towards more circular packaging at both European and Flemish level. Within Europe, it is stated that by 2030 all packaging must be recyclable or reusable. Fevia has sharpened this target with a deadline of 2025. To stimulate the use of reusable packaging, many research and implementation questions still need to be answered, such as accurate and automated detection methods for defects and/or contamination. This is of course very important to guarantee consumer safety as well as the economic viability of the business model.


The VISION2REUSE project demonstrates the applicability of various smart cameras for automatic quality control (e.g. detection of scratches, tears, contamination) of reusable packaging in the food and packaging industry. Various camera technologies (e.g. color, depth and hyperspectral cameras) and state-of-the-art machine learning are used to accurately and quickly evaluate whether the packaging material is still suitable for a new reuse cycle or whether it needs to be processed in a specific end-of-life stream (e.g. recycling). On the other hand, it must also provide information about the degree of contamination, which is direct input for the treatment of the packaging material before it can be used again (e.g. type of washing process). In addition, the influence of the washing process on the integrity and contamination of the packaging is examined.

Logos V2 R
Figuur Vision2 Reuse

Target audience

The target group of VISION2REUSE consists of producers and suppliers of reusable packaging materials, users of this packaging and technology companies (sensors, data processing). In this project, four sectors are considered to have great potential for the implementation of reusable packaging, so the impact of this project has a broad dimension with potential for spillover of this technology to non-food sectors.

  • B2B drink & food packaging (e.g. plastic barrels, crates,…)
  • Retail (e.g. reusable consumer packaging)
  • Food services (e.g. catering)
  • E-commerce

Concrete objectives within the project

  • Raising awareness of the target group about the possibilities of various camera technologies for the automatic analysis of packaging in function of damage, contamination, ...
  • Organizing matchmaking and supporting the start-up of co-creation processes between stakeholders of the target group in order to result in an innovative ecosystem.
  • Demonstration trials within the four sectors of the VISION2REUSE target group
  • Drawing up a Best Practice Guide on quality control of reusable packaging, including Design4Reuse guidelines.
  • The project consortium will focus on awareness raising, demonstration and in the medium term aspires to co-create innovation trajectories between producers of reusable packaging, technology companies and food companies. In the longer term, the project results will provide companies with an automated control system that is economically feasible to assess reusability of packaging.

Project consortium

The project consortium combines a broad network of target group companies (Flanders' FOOD & Pack4Food) with expertise in smart camera technologies (imec). Bringing together the contacts of imec within technology companies with the contacts within the target group companies creates every opportunity to establish an innovative ecosystem for the automatic quality monitoring of reusable packaging. The project was realized with the support of the European Regional Development Fund.

Project results

Upon completion of the project, a Vision2Reuse practice guide was made available free of charge by the project partners including:

  • Costs and trade-offs of smart camera systems
  • Design4reuse guidelines
  • Other necessary developments throughout the (international) value chain

Practical Guide

After two years, the VISION2REUSE project has been successfully completed. The research focused on assessing the practical application of intelligent cameras for quality control of reusable packaging. Pack4Food, Flanders' FOOD and Imec joined forces in this innovative project to provide valuable insights to companies. The realization of this project was made possible by a grant of €324,422 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This document is in English and available via the button below.


Despite the logistical challenges in using reusable packaging, Vison2Reuse takes an important step with smart camera systems as a possible solution. This research also demonstrates the need for further research such as the optimization of reusable packaging design (both by form and materials) as well as technologies for integration into washing lines and efficient quality controls on reusable packaging, among others.

Financial contribution for participation in advisory committee Vision2Reuse - Sponsoring by companies

Company size (number of employees)Annual contribution (excl. VAT)
0 - 50
50 - 250
> 250

Contact details

PartnerContact personEmail address
Hedwige Verherbrugghen
Flanders' FOOD
Michèle Kint
Kris van de Voorde

Interested or do you have ideas for follow-up projects? Pack4Food is ready to support companies in realizing their packaging related ideas, from concept to implementation. Contact

Own innovative ideas for a company-specific project? Contact

Vision2Reuse Partners throughout the value chain

This project fits into the vision of the Roadmap "Food Packaging of the Future" which addresses several of the core themes namely sustainable packaging, packaging and digitalization as well as packaging and logistics processes.