Over 80% of plastic waste in Belgium is recycled, according to a study presented on Monday by the Coberec-Go4Circle federation of recyclers and Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development Marie Christine Marghem. While Belgium can boast of being a good European pupil, the study pinpoints ways to improve this score even more.
In 2015, Belgium had the best recycling rate for packaging material in Europe, according to the European statistical office, Eurostat. However, the Federal Government aims to do even better and become the European leader of the circular economy. “This is an ambitious project begun in October 2016, that goes beyond the framework of this legislature since the study spans three years,” Minister Marghem explained.
Of the 183,000 tonnes of household packaging waste on the Belgian market each year, the country’s nine recycling plants process about 157,000 tonnes of plastics, metal and cardboard (PMC) collected in blue bags. The first phase of the Coberec-Go4Circle study, presented on Monday, focuses on plastics.
About 132,000 tonnes (84%) of plastic packaging is recycled. The rest is material lost mainly because of sorting errors, and waste collected but not recycled.
In its study, Coberec-Go4Circle proposes ways to minimize losses. These include encouraging the use of packaging composed of a single material, using transparent PET plastics, which are easier to spot during optical sorting, and reducing the size of the sleeves that cover the bottles.
The issue of the sleeves has generated much discussion between producers, consumer groups and recyclers. Some argue that they add to the product’s attractiveness and also protect it. Others say they are hard to separate from the bottles, which sometimes leads to recyclable material being lost.
“This study aims precisely at laying the foundation for dialogue between all actors in the life cycle of a package,” Minister Marghem said.