Pre-sorting recovers PMD from public bins


Fost Plus has set up pre-sorting projects to recover PMD packaging from public bins.  To this end, it is working together with the Bruco Sambreville pre-sorting centre. The aim is to separate PMD packaging, which can be recycled, from residual waste, which is eventually burnt. This enables us to recover more packaging from food and drink on the go in the recycling chain. Pre-sorting already takes place in a number of towns, cities and communes, including Charleroi.  

Recovering as many materials as possible 

Waste from products eaten and drunk on the go and thrown in public bins cannot always be sorted. Not all these bins have separate compartments to differentiate between the waste types. In addition, if sorting islands are available, the sorting quality is often not all that it might be. 

Fost Plus aims to offer a recycling solution for all packaging, whether the product it contains is eaten or drunk at home or on the go. In fact, about 20% of the waste in the public bins in towns, cities and communes consists of PMD packaging. This may be plastic sandwich bags, salad containers or drinks packaging. Mixed with other waste types, at the moment it leaves the recycling chain and cannot be recycled into secondary raw materials used to produce new packaging or items. However, installing sorting islands everywhere in public places is neither feasible nor desirable..

27 m of advanced technology 

Fost Plus has concluded partnership agreements for pre-sorting projects with various towns, cities and communes. This involves sending the contents of public bins to a specialised pre-sorting centre, in particular at the Bruco Sambreville site.

The Bruco group has several sites in Belgium that sort and process various types of industrial waste (wood, glass, etc.). The pre-sorting centre in Sambreville has installed a new 27-m high-tech facility that includes optical sorting, among other things. It is a first for this type of sorting centre. “This sorting line, initially intended to sort construction waste, comprises various technologies. So we have been able to adapt it and use it to separate PMD from residual waste”, Bruco CEO Kris Nys tells us. 

A double sorting process 

The contents of public bins are collected by various organisations, including the intermunicipal waste management companies. This is the case in Charleroi. TIBI is responsible for keeping public spaces in the city clean and tidy. Teams from the intermunicipal company empty the public bins. As TIBI Director General Philippe Teller stresses, “They still contain PMD. TIBI believes that it is important to join forces with Fost Plus so that this waste can be recovered from the public bins and sent to sorting centres such as Valtris here in our region.” 

Once it reaches TIBI, the waste collected is stored in a container which is then taken away by the Bruco Sambreville team to be sent to the pre-sorting centre. It is a three-step process: 

1.    The pre-sorting installations separate the PMD from the residual waste.
2.    This household packaging is sent to the PMD sorting centres to be sorted with the blue bags collected from people’s homes. 
3.    There, waste is sorted on the basis of the material flows, to  finally send it to the appropriate recycling centres. 

These materials, which used to leave the existing sorting and recycling chains, are therefore picked up, sorted and recycled! 

A promising future 

Lieven Capon, Innovation Cluster Manager at Fost Plus, says that “at the moment, we collect 20% of PMD from bins in the streets. In future, we hope to be able to sort and recycle other materials from these bins”. In fact, Fost Plus and Bruco are currently testing the sorting of paper-cardboard found in public bins. 

The pre-sorting project is already underway in a number of Belgian towns, cities and communes, including Le Coq, Leuven, Charleroi, etc. It is our ambition to extend it to as many other places as possible, in order to pick up as much PMD packaging as possible so as to give it a second life.  

Discover here the pre-sorting project