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Brussels vastly increases organic waste collection

08:45 24/10/2023

Mandatory sorting of food waste is working well in Brussels, according to new figures, with 82% more organic waste collected between May and August 2023 than during the same period last year.

That was the message of the capital’s waste collection organisation Bruxelles-Propreté/Brussels Net in its five-month report on the household waste collection reforms.

Collection of all recyclable waste also increased, the group said. This result has been helped because what Belgium’s waste management organisation Fost Plus calls the “new blue bag” from 2021 can now contain plastic trays, wrapping film and even the once maligned yoghurt pot, as well as the easier-to-recycle plastic bottles, metal cans and beverage cartons (PMC) waste.

Organic household waste recycling increased by 48% in May, 75% in June, 105% in July and 126% in August.

In the blue bag, waste collection rose by 14% between May (6,320 tonnes) and August (7,219 tonnes). Green waste and paper and card (yellow bag) collections also went up by 28% and 3% respectively.

This means that nearly 6,000 tonnes of waste were sorted instead of ending up in the incinerator. This will help the Brussels region contribute to the European Union target in the 2018 waste framework directive of recycling or reusing 60% of all municipal waste by 2030.

“These figures show a positive change in the habits of Brussels’ residents, in terms of reducing residual waste and also in increasing sorting,” said Brussels minister for the environment and public cleanliness Alain Maron.

“This is a significant contribution to the aim of reducing by 30% the amount of waste sent to incinerators,” the minister continued. He added that to cut polluting incinerator emissions, Brussels would continue its efforts to raise awareness over the coming months.

However, Bruxelles-Propreté spokesperson Adel Lassouli also noted that the reforms – that also stipulated different waste collection days, fewer general waste (white bag) collections and a shorter time to leave your bags on the street – were not being followed by everyone.

“We still see many bags left on the street outside the set times,” Lassouli said. Since mid-September, the company has fined around 100 people who continually ignore the rules and they now risk fines from €300 to €600.

“This is important as we note that those who do not respect the new collection calendar often do not recycle their waste,” the agency’s research and enforcement co-ordinator Michel Chauvaux told Bruzz.

Improvements are also necessary in large blocks of flats, Lassouli said: “Although nearly all of these buildings are given wheelie bins, only 35% of them currently participate in biological waste collections (orange bag).”

Bruxelles-Propreté is also continuing to spread the sorting word, particularly in areas where there is still much room for improvement, for example giving out multilingual sorting calendars.

However, the organisation has its work cut out to convince certain communes to put out their waste at the correct times and to use the orange bag.

Criticisms centre on the evening waste collections. Many residents say the 18.00 to 20.00 time slot is not long enough.

But Lassouli argues that while the possibility of extending the hours is still being considered, the decision to allow a shorter period was a good one.

It will result not only in less noise, but also in a reduced time for the rubbish bags to remain on the street.

Written by Liz Newmark