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Belgians improve recycling rate for fifth consecutive year

Garbage Glass Recycled Glass Recycling Bottles

The recycling of household packaging waste improved last year for the fifth year in a row, according to the annual report of Fost Plus, the organisation for the collection and recycling of household waste in Belgium.

Household packaging waste includes glass, PMD (which stands for plastic packaging, metal packaging and drink cartons), paper and cardboard.

“Belgium is the European leader in the recycling of household packaging,” said Patrick Laevers, managing director of Fost Plus.

764,122 tonnes of such materials were recycled in the country, equalling a recycling rate of 94.9%.

That’s an average of 64.9 kg of packaging waste per inhabitant of Belgium that was recycled in 2020.

It amounts to 32.2 kilograms of glass, 16.9 kilograms of packaging in paper or cardboard and 15.8 kilograms of PMD.

According to Fost Plus, the fact that the figures have increased again is mainly due to the new PMD bag that increased the types of items people are allowed to recycle (for example: butter dishes, yoghurt pots and plastic foils).

“Through the ‘New Blue Bag’, we collect 90,000 tonnes of extra packaging annually that, until recently, still ended up in the residual waste,” the annual report stated.

The new PMD bag was introduced in the first municipalities in Belgium in mid-2019. By the end of 2020, its use was extended to some 4.1 million inhabitants.

With the new bag, an average of 8 kilograms of additional PMD is collected per inhabitant, said Fost Plus. In the course of 2021, the “New Blue Bag” will be rolled out across the whole of Belgium.

While almost all of the packaging discarded in the categories of glass, paper and cardboard is recycled, only 51.1% of plastic packaging is recycled in Belgium.

But this is already better than the European target for 2025 (50%), said Fost Plus. Belgium wants to achieve 70 percent recycling of plastic packaging by 2030.

Waste is also increasingly recycled inside of Belgium itself.

According to the annual report, all recycling takes place within Europe: 79% of it in Belgium and the rest in France, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

“Thanks to uniform systems and a simple sorting message, nowhere else is more packaging waste collected than at our site,” said Laevers.

At present, Belgian recycling consists mainly of paper, cardboard, glass and metals.

“Plastic packaging is still mainly recycled in France, Germany, the Netherlands and a small percentage in Spain,” explained the report.

“Some 9% of plastic packaging is recycled domestically. That share will already rise to over 50% by 2023, with the opening of the announced recycling lines for PET bottles and PE films.”

The cost of selective collection, sorting and recycling of household packaging waste is about €15 per inhabitant, Fost Plus said.

The Brussels Times