Ecoo Beringen starts construction work for recycling household packaging


The recycling of household packaging waste surges ahead with the start of construction work at Ecoo in Beringen. This recycling centre, located at the foot of the Biostoom power plant will be used for " PE film to PE film " recycling, i.e. the recycling of polyethylene (PE), the plastic found among other things in the outer packaging of multipacks and in packaging bags. Now that everyone in Flanders has access to the expanded collection of plastic packaging via the New Blue Bag at home, and this is also being implemented at the workplace, this new recycling chain ensures the circular management of the raw materials.

Flanders heads recycling in Europe

The site of the Ecoo Beringen recycling centre were officially being opened on the 20th of April in the presence of Zuhal Demir, Flemish minister for the Environment. This recycling centre will recycle around 42,000 tonnes of PE film every year, the vast majority of which comes from the household packaging waste circuit. This is an entirely new recycling chain on a scale never before seen in Europe, made possible thanks to the long-term agreement between Fost Plus and five new sorting centres. Their meticulous sorting guarantees a constant inflow of good-quality material for the recycling market. In combination with high-tech recycling, this means that the recycled polyethylene can compete with ‘virgin’ or new material.

‘Our new Biostoom power plant in Beringen is the heart of an energy and materials hub, which we are currently developing and for which we are attracting new companies. Ecoo Beringen is one such company. It is to process used packaging film to make high-grade pellets which can be used again to manufacture plastic products and packaging. So it goes from waste to new, full-blown raw material’, says Philip Peeters, managing director of Biostoom Beringen.

Uniform sorting message

The New Blue Bag has been introduced in Brussels, Flanders and most of Wallonia since 1 April. The last Walloons intermunicipal companies will make the switch after the summer. At the same time, the expanded sorting message applies now for all companies and organisations, too. This means that almost all plastic household packaging waste will be sorted as PMD, both at home and at work. Thanks to the efficient collecting system, the high-tech sorting centres and additional recycling capacity, in 2020 we attained 51 % recycling of plastic packaging. That is five years ahead of the European standard of 50% which does not come into force until 2025.

Zuhal Demir: ‘Nowhere is more household packaging waste selectively collected than in Flanders and Belgium. Thanks to the New Blue Bag, it is now even easier for all citizens to sort packaging waste correctly all the time, wherever they are. As a result, in 2020 we recorded a recycling percentage of 51% for plastic packaging. That means we have achieved a major goal in the Packaging Plan 2.0. In addition, thanks to high-tech sorting centres and recycling capacity here at home, we are putting Flanders on the map as a recycling hub in Europe.’

Patrick Laevers, managing director of Fost Plus: ‘Our aim is to create a circular economy for packaging. By setting up recycling capacity in our own country, we make valuable secondary raw materials available for the local production industry. This is the final link in the recycling chain, which begins with the uniform collection of household packaging waste. With the introduction of the New Blue Bag, we have made that possible for everyone in Flanders – and soon everyone in Belgium. The first two of five new sorting centres are fully operational, so we can sort out the separate material flows to the fullest extent possible. This provides an assurance for the citizen who throws his packaging into the New Blue Bag that it will actually be recycled.’

Ecoo Beringen is a collaboration between Biostoom Beringen and the recycling company Ecoo Group based in Houthalen-Helchteren. This new recycling centre represents an investment of around EUR 42 million and 30 new employees for the Beringen site. The work will last until the end of the year.

According to Ecoo Group CEO Koen Verhaert, a long-term vision and cooperation form the basis of the circular economy of the future: ‘As we are assured of a lasting inflow of household plastic film thanks to the New Blue Bag, we can invest and innovate in our recycling technology in the long term. So we are able to produce high-quality recycled granulate to make PE film to the same standard as “virgin” material.’

Nowhere is more household packaging waste selectively collected than in Flanders and Belgium. Thanks to the New Blue Bag, it is now even easier for all citizens to sort packaging waste correctly all the time, wherever they are.