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Recycled materials: only 6% are reused in Belgium

Belgium's recycling of synthetic materials has increased since 2006. Credit: Belga

The recycling of synthetic materials in Belgium has increased by 54% since 2006, but these recycled substances are not sufficiently used as raw materials in the production of new goods.

A study on this subject, conducted by Conversio on behalf of Agoria and Essenscia Federations, was presented on Thursday in Brussels to mark the Belgian Plastics Day (Agoria, Technical Industry; Essenscia, Life Science and Chemistry).

There are different kinds of synthetic materials, each with its own properties. More than half of the synthetic products on the Belgian market have a lifespan of 2 to 50 years, so some arrive too late in the recycling circuit: for example, insulation equipment, televisions, cars, refrigerators, shoes and garden furniture.

Last year in Belgium, 610 kilotons of synthetic waste were collected. This was made up of 57% packaging, 8% building material and 8% electronic devices.

One-third of this waste was recycled, marking an increase of 54% since 2006.

Anything that is not recyclable is incinerated and, where possible, the incineration contributes to energy.

Only 2% of synthetic waste is buried in Belgium, compared to 25% at the European level.

The study also revealed that only 6% of recycled synthetic materials are reused, mainly in construction (44%), packaging (28%) and agriculture.

“There is still a huge potential for synthetic materials within the circular economy,” said Essenscia PolyMatters Director Saskia Walraedt.

Agoria and Essenscia Federations call for investment in new recycling and sorting techniques and request a revision of the legalities that hinder the use of recycled materials.

“Chemical recycling can be a solution to reduce incineration, improve recycling and increase re-use. In this process, polymers are again split into monomers, which can then be used as raw substance for new synthetic produce or in the chemical industry,” Walraedt explained.

The Brussels Times