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 announced the construction of three new recycling plants in our country. Next to the recycling of PET bottles, they will treat new material types from the New Blue Bag.
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. With success! More announcements will follow.

2. 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. Thanks to the new declaration system MyFost, we can count on even more accurate and transparent packaging data. This is paramount to respond to the fast changing packaging legislation and objectives.

3. 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. The new PET recycling plant allows us to reintroduce r-PET from the Belgian market to the Belgian market, thanks to bottle-to-bottle applications with 51 to 100% of recycled content.

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. Want to know more? Read on to find out how Belgium is playing a pioneering role in bringing about the circular economy for packaging.