A fruitful base for the circular packaging economy

A fruitful base for the circular packaging economy

Packaging plays an important role in our daily lives. As a driver of the circular economy,  Fost  Plus strives to find a recycling solution for each form of household packaging on the market. 

This enables us to keep valuable materials in the chain as secondary raw materials for new packaging or products. We explain why the time is now right to move up a gear in achieving the circular economy for packaging.  

A new look at packaging  

Packaging fulfils a function. A life without packaging is not always possible or even desirable. Packaging ensures that products stay fresh longer, are transported safely and are stored hygienically. It is made of a range of materials, including glass, aluminium,  steel  or plastic. The choice of a specific material is determined by  a number of  factors.  

However, the fact that packaging is necessary in many cases does not mean to say that we just  have to  accept that packaging becomes waste and materials are lost. On the contrary. Everything changes as soon as we look at packaging not as waste but as a valuable raw material.  

The circular model: a sustainable vision of the future  

The linear “make-take-waste” consumption pattern that was characteristic of modern society for so long is not a sustainable solution for the future. Today we are evolving towards a circular model, where materials are kept in the chain as secondary raw materials. This restricts the inflow of virgin material or primary raw materials as much as possible.  

So  whenever packaging is necessary and useful, it is important to collect as much of it as possible for recycling. This way, the value of the materials is not lost.  

(Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation  on the Circular Economy )  

Three conditions for achieving a circular economy for packaging  

The efficient house-to-house collection system for household packaging waste has existed ever since the 1990s. Today,  Fost  Plus aims to evolve towards a fully circular economy for packaging. Three important conditions for this have been fulfilled.  

  1. Stable investment climate  

In 2019 we announced the construction of five new sorting centres in Belgium. These will all become operational  during the course of  2021.  Read more here  about the launch of the New Blue Bag as a catalyst. In 2020 we launched calls for projects for four new recycling centres in Belgium. Three of the four cases involve the recycling of new types of material from the New Blue Bag. The fourth recycling plant will process PET bottles.  

In consultation with the government, we have updated the specifications from one to three years to nine years. Because a site on Belgian soil is being put forward, in this way we were able to offer investors more certainty. Successfully. The recycling contracts are to be awarded before the end of 2020.  

  1. Cooperation all along the chain  

Fost  Plus is the linchpin in the packaging recycling network. Together with everyone in the chain, we seek solutions for more and better recycling thanks to ever more efficient systems. This close cooperation enables us to respond promptly to innovations in packaging which our members bring to market, changing consumption trends or to logistics challenges.  

  1. European support for the use of  recyclate  

Packaging seldom comes onto the market in an exclusively Belgian context.  So  all packaging innovation has to be viewed on a European scale. By further promoting the use of  recyclate  and even making this mandatory, as is the case in the  Single Use Plastics Directive , the circularity aspect is automatically included in the development of new packaging. Europe requires that by 2030 all plastic drinks bottles contain at least 30%  recyclate . Incidentally, the  Fost  Plus accreditation states that right now, 25% of the PET bales must be used for new bottles. We already achieved 40% bottle-to-bottle recycling in 2019.  

COVID-19 has obliged us to redraw reality as we know it. We are working at home on a huge scale, starting new earnings models and embracing new technologies. We are looking forwards. Let us continue with the same momentum where household packaging is concerned and no longer accept that valuable materials are simply lost. Join the circular story today.  Read on to find out how Belgium is playing a pioneering role  in bringing about the circular economy for packaging.