Since the introduction of the New Blue Bag in 2019, the range of items that can be collected has not stopped expanding. We have seen the addition of plastic film, tubs and bags, followed by the addition of aerosols for non-food and non-cosmetic products. Today, we are collecting 8kg more each year per resident. However, in order to reduce the loss of materials to a minimum, we have set ourselves the objective of collecting all packaging! With this ambitious objective in mind, Fost Plus and its members have made various innovations that make it possible to further expand the collection via the Blue Bag in 2023 to include drinks capsules.
Introduction of drinks capsules in the Blue Bag
Capsules with coffee and other hot drinks, such as tea and hot chocolate, are increasingly popular. However, these capsules are single-use and therefore raise questions about their sustainability. And so it is that until 2022, there had been no unified collection system for these. Some companies themselves took charge of collecting used capsules, while others have not yet taken any specific action. Some of the capsules sold on the market therefore ended up in residual waste and were incinerated. All the materials were therefore lost, even though they have value.
In an effort at circularity, Fost Plus, in collaboration with Nespresso, Neslté and JDE Peet's, developed a sustainable recycling solution for these capsules: the Blue Bag. Since 1 January 2023, all Belgian residents have a uniform and accessible form of collection allowing them to get rid of their used drinks capsules. The capsules are made up mostly of aluminium, an infinitely recyclable material for which there is high demand. Some are made of plastic, which also has significant recycling potential.
Thanks to this solution, these materials are no longer lost but are recycled so as to create new secondary raw materials. The objective is to collect 4500 additional tonnes of materials.
For consumers, the introduction of capsules to the blue bag offers even greater convenience. They can now easily get rid of their capsules in a way that is accessible to everyone, and thereby contribute to a better world.
Sleeve covering certain types of packaging
Some packaging, such as those for certain detergents, is entirely covered by a plastic film, known as a sleeve. This plastic film, which may seem superfluous, is sometimes necessary to enhance the product’s shelf life. For example, the clear packaging of certain dairy products are enveloped in this type of packaging because milk cannot be exposed to sunlight. Therefore, they need to be protected. However, the sleeve covering the packaging may pose a problem for sorting and hence for recycling.
The problem is if the packaging is discarded with the sleeve, it cannot be sorted at the sorting centre and will therefore not be recycled. Given that it covers almost the entire packaging, the underlying material is not recognised by the machines and so does not end up in the correct flow. It is therefore lost to recycling.
The best solution to avoid this is very simple: you just need to remove the plastic film covering the packaging and to discard it separately in the Blue Bag. In this way, the two plastics will be sorted into their respective fractions and will be properly recycled. To this end, some brands are offering sleeves with a sort of “zipper”, so that all you need to do is pull it to remove the packaging. It’s that easy!
Discover the new sorting guide here.