If you work in the private sector, you’ve probably already heard of eco-cheques; tax-free ‘green cash’ issued by employers that can be used for the purchase of ecological products and services.
Over the last decade, eco-cheques have become increasingly more common as Belgian companies respond to changing attitudes around sustainability and ecological consumption. Today, more than 1.5 million workers in Belgium receive eco-cheques annually.
The problem is, there is still some confusion around exactly how eco-cheques work and where they can be redeemed. That confusion sees almost two million issued cheques remaining unused every year – with the unspent euros returning to the pockets of issuing bodies.
We’re here to help de-mystify the eco cheque and help you identify some fantastic places you can redeem your green cash – including the Dressr platform!
What is an eco-cheque?
Eco-cheques are cheques issued by employers that can be used for the purchase of ecological or ‘green’ products and services.
The program was launched in 2009 with the goal of incentivizing Belgian businesses to encourage more ecological consumption. Essentially, eco-cheques allow employers to increase sustainable employee benefits (up to €250 per year) while paying less tax.
Initially, eco-cheques were a paper-only system redeemable across a limited range of products & services, making the green cash difficult to spend. Today things are a lot more simple as the system has gone digital and the list of participating products and outlets has expanded dramatically.
How do eco-cheques work?
Eco-cheques are included as part of an annual benefit package by more than 80,000 Belgian employers to over 1.2 million employees. Employers can grant eco-vouchers of up to €250 per employee, per year.
The cheques themselves are issued (and maintained) by three distributors: Monizze, Sodexo and Edenred. They distribute vouchers digitally, providing users with a swipeable card (much like a standard debit card) that makes paying for ecological goods at participating outlets easy.
Eco-cheques expire 2 years after they have been issued.
Where can I spend my eco-cheques?
Over the last decade, the range of products & services eligible for purchase via eco-cheque has grown substantially. What was originally only redeemable for high-energy rating fridges and eco-friendly soil can now be spent on public transport passes, second-hand goods, organic fruit & vegetables, and even high-end designer rental subscriptions.
Both Sodexo and Monizze have a comprehensive list of participating products and services on their website.
Here are our picks for the most exciting ways you can spend your eco-cheques:
#1 Reduce your footprint (literally) with the Aovo electric scooter
E-scooters are becoming more and more popular as a sustainable alternative to owning a car. It’s not hard to see why. E-scooters produce no carbon emissions, reduce inner-city congestion and contribute to quieter urban environments.
What’s more, these relatively low-cost devices get safer and more robust every year and can now be purchased with eco-cheques!
#2 Take a sustainable sip with an Oé organic wine box
Who doesn’t love a nice glass of organic wine at the end of a busy week? Well, we have good news, eco cheques can now be used to purchase the beautiful range of Oé organic wine via Shopingreen Belgium.
Oé is a B Corp certified winery known for high-quality, certified organic wines. We’ve heard the Le Méditerranée Rosé is to DIE for…
#3 Renew your wardrobe with a designer clothing rental subscription from Dressr
As a further step in our mission to create a sustainable, fairer way to wear designer clothes, Dressr now accepts eco-cheques as a payment method! With a range of flexible memberships, Dressr has an option that works for you, whether you want a designer rental membership for yourself, or as a gift to a friend or loved one.
“The fact that Sodexo and Monizze have given permission to offer Dressr’s services in exchange for eco-cheques is a confirmation of the ecological benefits of renting clothes.”
Caroline Cecile Baeten | Dressr Founder
#4 Take a local train trip with NMBS/SNCB
Did you know you can buy public transport tickets with eco cheques?
Belgium’s national train service allows eco-cheque holders to purchase their ticket or multi-pass with their green cash. SNBC accepts both electronic and paper eco cheques however both variants can only be redeemed in-person at a ticket office.
Something to note – this offer is limited to domestic travel within Belgian and cannot be used to purchase a season pass.
#5 Have an organic feast with produce from your local supermarket retailer
Eco cheques are accepted at some of Belgium’s supermarket chains including Lidl and Carrefour.
Cheques can be spent on a range of products including organic fruit & vegetables, health supplements, and eco-cleaning supplies. Applicable products are usually marked with an EU-certified bio-organic logo such as these: