Garbage collectors in Flanders will start monitoring companies for sorting errors to see how well they’re recycling.
There are still a lot of recyclable materials in Flemish residual waste, according to Minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir.
“Flanders is a leader in the circular economy. With these new regulations, we are taking steps forward to further reduce the amount of residual waste from companies,” Demir said in a press release.
From now on, waste collectors will check their customers for sorting errors.
They can also choose to refuse unsorted business waste.
Today 79 percent of Flemish industrial waste is given a second life through reuse, recycling or composting, according to Demir’s office.
Together with OVAM, the Public Waste Agency of Flanders, the environment minister wants to increase that figure even further.
“This is not an unachievable goal, because there is still a lot of recyclable waste in companies’ residual waste,” her office said.
They’re calling on waste collectors to be more selective with their collection as of 1 September.
“Sorting analyses show that an average of 44 percent of residual company waste in sales containers and 29 percent of residual company waste in roll-off containers could still be collected selectively,” Demir said in her statement.
“The vast majority of that waste is perfectly recyclable.”
The monitoring will be done by visual checks, including lifting the lids of any roll-off containers in order to check the contents.
In the case of individual collections with a deposit container, the container must be emptied at a licensed site for inspection.
If a collector finds that the waste has not been adequately sorted, they must record this as a non-conformity and inform the customer of the sorting errors.
Local and regional enforcers can then use the registers to carry out more targeted inspections.
Waste collectors may also immediately refuse to take residual waste from their customers if it contains too much material that must be sorted.
If they detect hazardous waste, they must refuse it.
In other cases, the collector can take the waste but must take other actions like communicating the non-conformity through a central government system.
The collector could also sort the waste themselves (and charge for the trouble) and take out as much recyclable material as possible.
Even if the collector resorts, however, the customer is still breaking the law by not having sorted the waste at source.
This is because once the waste ends up in the residual waste, many materials become too polluted to be recycled.