Flemish initiative aims to reduce disposable packaging by 15,000 tonnes

Flemish initiative aims to reduce disposable packaging by 15,000 tonnes
Photo from Zuhal Demir (Twitter).

A Flemish initiative from ministers Hilde Crevits (CD&V) and Zuhal Demir (N-VA) called the “Green Deal Anders Verpakt” aims to reduce the amount of disposable packaging in the distribution sector by 15,000 tonnes, or around 300 million units.

Over 80 companies have signed on to the initiative, and Flemish waste management company OVAM says it wants to reverse the current trend that’s seen the amount of household non-reusable packaging increase by 10% in the last decade.

“More and more non-recurring packaging is coming onto the market,” OVAM said in a statement.

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“In 2019 approximately 877,000 tonnes of household packaging and 750,000 tonnes of commercial packaging came onto the market in Belgium. For business packaging, reusable packaging is used in more than 4 out of 5 packaging applications.”

But while the use of reusable packaging is increasing there, for household packaging, the use of reusable packaging is only stabilising.

Pandemic saw increase in online shopping and takeaway sales

Though the definitive impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the amount of packaging is not yet known, there was undoubtedly a strong increase in both online shopping and takeaway sales, both of which involve more packaging.

OVAM says that although major progress has already been made in the selective collection and recycling of packaging, too much single-use packaging ends up in litter or in residual waste, destined for incineration.

“If we want to achieve a circular economy, we must start using our raw materials more sustainably,” the waste management company said. “Prevention, and more specifically the elimination of packaging, and the reuse of packaging are part of the solution.”

Precursor for similar European objectives

The Green Deal Anders Verpakt has been included in the Packaging Plan 2.0 and the Implementation Plan for Plastics that have both been approved by the Flemish Government.

It will also serve as a precursor to various European objectives, and has been included in the new circular economy action plan that requires the Commission to review the packaging directive.

“It is about fundamentally rethinking services and packaging and the systems in which they are used,” OVAM explained.

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