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Bumpy start to new rubbish collection procedures in Brussels

14:40 20/05/2023

New waste collection procedures for Brussels that came into force on 15 May have got off to a bumpy start, with many residents still not having understood the change in dates despite long-running awareness campaigns.

Many streets were piled with rubbish this week, RTL reports, and several mayors have requested catch-up collections to clean the pavements.

“It's chaos in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre,” said its mayor, Benoît Cerexhe.

“All the white bins, or at least a large proportion of them, are out when they shouldn't be. There was clearly a lack of information.”

But waste collection organisation Bruxelles Propreté said hiccups were to be expected.

“These defects are also part of the learning process,” said spokesperson Etienne Cornesse.

“People realise that they have made a mistake because they see bags on the street. If they are removed immediately, next week they will make the same mistake again. So we are also careful to give them time to learn about their mistakes.”

Under the new procedures, food waste – which represents 40% of the contents of white bags – must now be placed in orange bags.

Food rubbish is collected once a week, and in some municipalities the collection of white bin bags has fallen from two collections to just one per week.

The changes were made in order to be in compliance with a European directive requiring the separate sorting and recycling of biowaste.

Residents are not the only ones grumbling about the change. Unions are also unhappy with the new rules.

They say the workload for rubbish collectors will become a lot heavier – up to 1.5 tonnes more to collect per employee per round.

Three major trade unions (ACV, VSOA and ACOD) have already issued strike notices.

The changes have only just been implemented and will be evaluated a first time in a few weeks and a second time in a few months, according to Brussels minister of public hygiene Alain Maron (Ecolo).

“The most important thing is that this period of uncertainty lasts as short as possible. We are working on that,” said Maron.

Written by Helen Lyons