On 28 May 2021, Fost Plus organised a webinar for members of the latest recycling figures for household packaging.
On 28 May 2021, Fost Plus organised its second webinar for members. These virtual events are designed to allow knowledge sharing and interaction. Fost Plus takes the opportunity to give its members details of the latest recycling figures for household packaging and answer their questions about the future of the recycling chain. It once again proved an inspiring session!
Managing director Patrick Laevers discussed the various steps in the development of a circular economy for packaging. The introduction of the New Blue Bag continued in 2020 and the first new sorting centres to sort out the different fractions came online. Another three are to follow this year, in 2021. The final sorting centre will come into operation in early 2022. It will then be possible to sort the contents of the New Blue Bag into 14 separate material flows for recycling everywhere. COO Mik Van Gaever described the process, using a coronavirus-proof visit to the Indaver sorting centre in Willebroek to illustrate his explanation. In addition, three contracts were signed last year for recycling centres here in Belgium specifically for the plastic fractions from the New Blue Bag. Another two are to follow this year. By bringing as much recycling to Belgium as possible where this makes economic sense, we strengthen the local industry.
Steven Boussemaere, director projects & innovation, continued by talking about packaging waste generated outside the home. Despite the lockdown and the many people working from home, Fost Plus again achieved the interim milestone for 2020, set at 19,000 tonnes of household packaging waste collected outside the home. The lion’s share of this was collected from companies. That's a good thing, because around 20,000 tonnes of packaging waste still disappear in the mixed industrial residual waste every year. It's a shame, because it means that these materials are lost for the circular economy. Out of home, however, we are also confronted with the problem of litter. In addition to existing actions, such as those undertaken by Mooimakers or BeWaPP, we therefore tested a reward system: the Click. The Click goes just that little bit further than raising awareness and providing information. It links up with local recovery plans and is to be further rolled out in Namur and Antwerp this year.
Behind the scenes, CFO Laurence Havrenne’s teams have been working hard on a new declaration system: MyFost. For Fost Plus, this is the next step in the digital transformation. As of the 2021 declaration, members will be using the MyFost customer zone to indicate the proportion and composition of their packaging. Fost Plus uses these data to calculate the Green Dot amount payable per member very precisely. This is a material- and activities-based rate for a certain packaging. That immediately underlines the importance of providing a declaration that is as detailed as possible, per (plastic) flow. Ultimately, it enables Fost Plus to share very detailed figures per material flow. In this way, members can monitor their own recycling goals. Linking the MyFost data to data from collection, sorting and recycling operators in real time provides relevant data on the packaging mix. Packaging trends can then be spotted quickly via data mining.
Patrick Laevers concluded by looking ahead. Every organisation looking to maintain its raison d’être needs to innovate. Innovation often involves doing the same thing a different way, or doing the same thing better, faster or cheaper. Innovation supports the Fost Plus mission: to offer a recycling solution for all household packaging on the market by 2025. A number of projects aimed at achieving this goal are in the pipeline. One of these involves the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Work is being done on ways of integrating AI into the Recycle! app, so as to offer members of the public dynamic sorting instructions as well as the collection calendar. AI can also be used in the sorting centres to further improve the quality of the sorted bales. If sorted materials are scanned before baling, then the visual quality inspection of the bales becomes superfluous. Moreover, this information provides input for the NIR (near infrared) scanners, so that they recognise the materials better on the conveyor belt via machine learning and this makes the sorting process even more precise. So that's something to look forward to!
In short, an inspiring and interactive session. The most important take-away here was without doubt the way the 2020 recycling figures underline the efficiency of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) as a driver for a circular economy for household packaging. We’ll be hosting our next webinar in September. Stay tuned for more details.