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Municipalities threaten to fine Bruxelles Propreté over missed waste collections
As Brussels residents still struggle to adapt to a new waste collection schedule that was implemented in advance of upcoming EU requirements, some municipalities are threatening to issue fines to Bruxelles Propreté, the agency responsible for waste management, for failing to stick to the new arrangements.
The new schedule was rolled out in May after months of public awareness campaigns, but the streets in some communes are still littered with rubbish bags that missed the collection time or, as some municipalities allege, were forgotten by rubbish collectors.
“The problem is that at Bruxelles Propreté they simply don't always do their collection rounds correctly,” mayor Christian Lamouline of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe (Les Engagés) told Bruzz.
“Almost every day there are bags forgotten which means the municipality then has to step in. There used to be two collection rounds for the white bag so then this was less of a problem.”
Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Schaerbeek and Etterbeek, among others, are considering using fines to force the agency into action.
Lamouline also said that the roads that fall under the responsibility of the Brussels region are often not thoroughly cleaned, which is another reason why he is considering fining the agency.
“The municipality of Schaerbeek has used that system before,” Lamouline said. “It's sad, but if nothing is done we have little choice.”
Schaerbeek alderman Deborah Lorenzino (Défi) confirmed that the municipality has sent fines to Bruxelles Propreté in the past.
“Since the first few weeks, there has been improvement, but there are still many places where Bruxelles Propreté fails to pick up rubbish bags,” Lorenzino said.
“We want to keep our streets clean and therefore have to use municipal services to collect the missed rubbish. The fines cover that cost.”
These fines in question would be based on a municipal tax ordinance against pollution. According to Lorenzino, the fines range from €95 to €190 per rubbish bag.
Etterbeek mayor Vincent De Wolf (MR) said he plans to evaluate the situation in his municipality next week and will not rule out issuing fines.
“There are still problems, but it's not clear for now whether things are better in the meantime than they used to be,” De Wolf said.
Another issue to arise from the change in schedule, according to alderwoman Carine Gol-Lescot (MR) of Uccle, is that more and more people are putting their rubbish in public bins.
“Those bins we now have to empty every day where it used to be every three days,” Gol-Lescot said.
“For fly-tipping we can also often call Bruxelles Propreté, but they are usually not quick enough and if you leave it for a day, tomorrow you have even more on the street.
"We are now putting cameras in the places where illegal dumping occurs most often and have also already asked for a container where people can dispose of their white bags.”
But Bruxelles Propreté has pointed to the major improvements that have already taken place since mid-May.
“We are especially surprised by the threatening language used by some municipalities and do not consider it fair play,” said spokesperson Adel Lassouli.
“Municipalities are rather quick to say that something is our fault when sometimes it is also just mistakes made by residents. If streets are forgotten, which happens very occasionally, Bruxelles Propreté informs the municipality in question.
"We have permanent people for this who take care of the communication per municipality and an extra round is then organised within a maximum of 24 hours."
The waste collection agency plans to organise another meeting in September to evaluate the waste policy and find concrete solutions to any problems.