Sorting PMD in the workplace: where do we stand today?


Whether we’re at home or out and about, sorting PMD is a well-established habit among us Belgians. The extension of the sorting rules has made it possible to standardise the message as well as to simplify it, as it is identical everywhere and for everyone. Regardless of the location, bottles, cans, yoghurt pots and empty lunchtime salad containers always go in the blue bag.

Our aim is to recycle PMD both from the home and from outside the home, and the workplace is an important source. By involving businesses in a process of responsible sorting, we are limiting the impact of packaging waste on the environment and moving towards our objective of doubling the collection of PMD outside the home between 2018 and 2023.

2023 is here, so it’s time to take stock of the situation and list the challenges that need to be overcome.


Results on the rise

In 2021, we hit the interim target of 22,000 tonnes of out-of-home PMD. The figures continued to improve during 2022, when we saw a progressive increase in the quantity of PMD collected in businesses. These results were made possible, especially towards the end of the year, by our communication and recruitment campaigns, our welcome bonuses and the efforts of all the partners involved. This resulted in 24,000 tonnes of out-of-home PMD collected in 2022. A promising result with a view to reaching our final target of 26,000 tonnes by the end of 2023.

The upward trend is also due to inspections at businesses. Fost Plus and OVAM agreed to appoint two people to monitor compliance with the sorting rules at businesses. This has resulted in more than 900 inspections since the end of 2021. In many cases, clear recommendations have been made to improve the quality of sorting.


Effective welcome bonuses

To encourage businesses that do not yet sort their PMD, Fost Plus set up a welcome bonus system in collaboration with Valipac. Every business that begins to sort its PMD via an affiliated waste operator is rewarded with a bonus. In 2021, we recorded that 2,140 businesses, having signed a contract for their PMD, had receive the bonus. That represented an increase of almost 1,000 businesses compared to the figures for 2019 and 2020. The figures for 2022 are expected by June. Once again, we are optimistic that many businesses have taken the step of sorting their PMD, thus meeting their legal obligation.

The welcome bonus will continue to apply in 2023.


Still more effort needed on quality

Of course, further effort is needed in 2023 to increase the quantity of PMD. Our goal for the end of the year is to collect 26,000 tonnes of PMD out-of-home. Fost Plus is again planning awareness campaigns to persuade businesses to sort PMD as is done at home.

However, it is crucial to ensure the quality of this PMD waste, which is sometimes questionable. We have introduced an action plan for quality. One of the elements in this plan is the application of a quality procedure in the transfer stations. Among the roles of these transfer stations is to check for the presence of large items such as industrial film or packaging over 8 litres. Depending on how serious a mistake is, the transfer station can accept the PMD, rectify it or refuse it.

In 2022, we expanded the number of transfer stations with which we work – seeking out, selecting and signing contracts with them. Waste operators are therefore now able to deliver PMD to 17 different transfer stations, spread across the country. We finance storage and transport to the nearest sorting centre. This initiative therefore facilitates logistics, reduces delivery distances and makes it possible to monitor the quality of the delivered PMD more effectively.

To support businesses in quality sorting of PMD, communication material (stickers, posters, etc.) is also made available free of charge at the Fost Plus Sortstore. It can be used to identify the sorting islands, for example, or to spell out the sorting rules. 


By meeting this obligation and introducing appropriate rules in the workplace, businesses become part of the circular economy.