Fost Plus sets up pilot projects with municipalities and intermunicipal organisations to step up the fight against litter


The legal and financial framework around public littering is taking a different path today. In fact, in accordance with the European directive on single-use plastics, companies that put certain plastic products (including packaging) on the European market are obliged to bear the cost of increasing awareness, cleaning up and processing litter, in proportion to the share of waste they are responsible for. As part of the transposition of this directive into Belgian law, the three regions are currently drafting an Interregional Cooperation Agreement, which, incidentally, targets a wider scope of products in litter. In anticipation of that ICA, we are setting up pilot projects to put a centralised litter approach into practice. In this way, we are taking the flight ahead and can start efficiently as soon as the legal framework allows.

Collaboration on the ground

Economies of scale, sharing knowledge and cost control are the three advantages of the collaboration model that we are planning in order to improve public cleanliness. This involves working together with towns, cities and municipalities on the ground, with local and regional political decision-makers and with waste management operators, in coordination with centres of expertise on litter, such as Mooimakers and Be WaPP. In order to demonstrate the advantages of a collaboration like this, we have set up pilot projects with the IVAGO intermunicipal organisation (for Ghent) and the Flemish municipalities of Erpe-Mere and Aalter. In Wallonia, we are working with the intermunicipal organisations TIBI (for Charleroi) and IDELUX (for the municipalities of Bouillon, Malmedy, Hotton and Tintigny). This allows us to test our approach in different contexts that reflect the diversity of the Belgian landscape. These are two-way exchanges: we obtain a clearer view of the way in which the operational management of litter works at the moment and our partners receive additional resources to implement actions that are likely to serve as a model for a possible roll-out.

Erpe Mere

An ‘at-risk areas’ approach in Erpe-Mere

Following litter detection procedures and a perception survey, an at-risk areas approach was implemented in Steenstraat in Erpe-Mere, which is both a commercial and a residential street. This initiative aimed to involve both residents, merchants and visitors by means of new infrastructures and increased communication. Practical measures were taken, including the installation of additional sorting islands in front of the shops, an extra public rubbish bin and more intensive municipal cleaning services.

During a second survey carried out after these steps had been taken, although the participants still complained about litter, they did acknowledge a general improvement in cleanliness in Steenstraat. The rate of satisfaction as regards cleanliness rose significantly, from 42% during the first survey to 75%. In addition, the number of people stating that there is “a lot to an enormous amount of litter” in the street fell substantially, from 50 % to just 31%. Detection procedures are continuing in order to assess the long-term impact of these measures.

IDELUX adopts a two-fold approach

The partnership with IDELUX, which assists 55 municipalities in the province of Luxembourg, aims to gain a better understanding of the causes of public littering and to provide appropriate responses with a view to creating a cleaner public space.

The project involves a two-fold approach. The first is a generic approach developed with IDELUX and consists of offering 55 municipalities awareness posters that can be put up in places regularly affected by litter such as the entrance to sports clubs, cultural centres or administrative buildings or near bus stops or schools. At total of 3,000 posters and 1,100 signs, in French and German, are to be distributed in the region. These posters draw attention to the degradation rate of rubbish dumped in nature.


The second approach in the pilot project targets four specific municipalities: Bouillon, Hotton, Malmedy and Tintigny. These municipalities suffer from anti-social behaviour, such as putting out rubbish bags outside the permitted times, poor use of public dustbins by local residents and infrastructure not adapted to the seasonal influx of tourists. They would also like to install waste islands in public spaces to promote selective collection. In collaboration with IDELUX and Fost Plus, the municipalities have defined some specific measures to respond to this nuisance. These initiatives reinforce those already taken by the municipalities.


Making data available in Aalter

Each town, city or municipality draws up an action plan taking account of a range of indicators such as the number of bins, the areas affected by litter and the quantities collected in the public bins. However, it is often difficult to manage all this information. We are working to make the use of resources as regards public cleanliness more transparent by litter detection and monitoring when public bins are full.

Having assessed the data available to Aalter, it became apparent that gaining access to this information was problematic. Several measures were taken to remedy this situation:

  • A map was produced indicating public bins so as to measure the level to which they are filled. This made it possible to identify problematic points where rubbish was badly managed, which in turn resulted in the removal or replacement of certain bins.
  • A specific container was installed near the municipal warehouses to collect the waste from public bins, making it easier to measure and report quantities.
  • The litter detection procedures made it possible to identify the ‘dirtiest’ areas in the municipality, triggering an in-depth study to draw up an appropriate action plan.

TIBI placed under surveillance

The TIBI intermunicipal organisation is traditionally responsible for collecting and managing household waste in 14 municipalities in the Charleroi region. Since 2018, TIBI has also been responsible for managing public cleanliness in Charleroi, and Aiseau-Presle was added in 2023. This is unusual, as this responsibility is generally a matter for towns, cities and municipalities. With our help, they are now extending their scope of action to include surveillance - a service which they would like to offer all towns, cities and municipalities in Wallonia. As this is a first for an intermunicipal organisation, with the support of Be WaPP we are putting in place the outlines of an intermunicipal coercive approach. This is based on the one hand on recruiting intermunicipal agents and on the other on the use of video surveillance equipment. In addition, TIBI takes part in exchanges of good practices with the IVAGO intermunicipal organisation as these two organisations have many points in common, such as the management of both household waste and waste resulting from public cleanliness measures.


IVAGO tests AI

In collaboration with IVAGO, we are testing the possibilities of artificial intelligence to analyse levels of cleanliness. Several cameras installed on service vehicles are scanning the streets and recording the amount and type of litter detected. The test is to be used to assess whether this new measuring method produces reliable results, comparable to those obtained using the manual surveillance procedure currently applied by IVAGO. In addition, the at-risk areas are being mapped out so as to assess whether the street-sweeping frequencies need to be adjusted. We are eagerly awaiting the first results.

These pilot projects are set to run until the end of August 2024. The next stages will mainly involve continuing to roll out the actions defined and constantly monitoring their effect on cleanliness.