It is estimated that around 20,000 tonnes of perfectly recyclable PMD disappears in mixed industrial waste every year. The cause? Poor sorting at the source. It's a shame, because it means that these materials are lost for the circular economy. New obligations mean that waste operators are actively involved in compliance with the sorting rules.
The waste operator plays an important role in the management of industrial waste. After all, companies conclude contracts concerning which waste flows are collected and how frequently. However, their role is becoming even more vital.
Vlarema 8, the Flemish regulation on the sustainable management of material cycles and waste, which implements the principles of the Material Decree in practice, stipulates that as of 1 September 2021 waste operators are obliged by law to detect and record sorting errors at their clients. In concrete terms, this means that they inspect their clients’ residual waste containers visually. This can be done either at the client’s when the waste is collected or when the container arrives at the site. Companies that send in residual waste with a lot of or too much recyclable material are reported and the company will be notified. The authorities then conduct targeted inspections.
The aim is to reduce the proportion of mixed industrial waste by 15% compared with 2013 by 2022. So residual waste should be prevented as much as possible. This can be done by collecting recyclable fractions separately. That not only sounds logical. It’s an obligation. Every company and every organisation in Flanders is obliged to offer their waste separately, on the basis of 24 defined waste flows – including PMD. By collecting more waste separately, more can be recycled.
Sorting PMD at work, just like at home
The expanded sorting rules for household plastic packaging apply both at home and at work. This means you sort in the same way at the office, at the sports club or in an amusement park. However, the sorting process for industrial plastic films (such as pallet films and plastic raw materials bags) that are also found in companies, is different. In addition to the blue PMD bag or container, companies can buy special collection bags for this from their waste operator. Each flow then follows a specific recycling process to be made into raw materials for new packaging or products.
Fost Plus and Valipac, the organisations in charge of the recycling chains for household and industrial packaging respectively, support companies to help the sorting process for the various flows run more smoothly. They are drawing attention to the sorting obligation and the available tools by means of a new radio campaign, which is to run until 3 October 2021. For more information and possible grants for companies that are starting to sort, go to the website sorterenophetwerk.be / trierautravail.be