On 1 April, 10 intermunicipal companies will be switching to the New Blue Bag.
With the inclusion of Incovo, Interrand, Interza, Ivbo, Ivvo, Aarschot, Knokke and Limburg.net, everyone in Flanders will now be able to sort their plastic packaging waste using the PMD bag. In Wallonia, Hygea and Ipalle Sud-Hainaut are joining, as well. in BW and Tibi will move to the New Blue Bag in July, while Idelux will complete the series in the south of the country in October. That brings the total to 10,3 million Belgians.
The New Blue Bag has been gradually introduced throughout Belgium since 2019. In addition to the usual plastic bottles and flasks, virtually all plastic packaging waste can be put in the PMD bag. This means that from now on, yoghurt pots, butter tubs and plastic bags can be selectively collected and recycled. About 8 kg per person per year is moving from the residual waste bag to the PMD bag. It represents a major financial input and a huge environmental gain, because new recycling chains are being set up for the materials collected.
Sorting and recycling centres here at home
That is why the introduction had to be gradual. Around 90,000 tonnes of additional PMD are coming onto the market per year. So the existing sorting capacity had to be increased and modernised. That led to the construction of five new sorting centres, two of which are already operational. The others will follow later this year, in parallel with the phasing out of the existing sorting infrastructure and the new intermunicipal companies that are switching.
The sorted materials each follow their own recycling path. The recycling chains for plastic bottles and flasks have been in place for years. For the new materials such as plastic films, that was not yet the case, certainly not as we move increasingly towards circular applications. So as well as driving up capacity, a good quality, sustainable recycling chain needed to be set up for each material flow.
That has now been done! At the end of last year, we announced three new recycling centres in Belgium – the first in a whole series. Where this is economically sensible, over the next few years we will be bringing as much recycling capacity as possible to Belgium. The wider availability of secondary raw materials gives the local production industry a substantial boost. And what we do not recycle in Belgium remains close to home, as it goes to the Netherlands, France or Germany.
The New Blue Bag is a real catalyst for the local circular economy. By the middle of this year, it will have been introduced throughout the country. For more information, go to www.denieuweblauwezak.be