New Blue Bag boosts the circular economy for packaging

New Blue Bag boosts the circular economy for packaging

The New Blue Bag was launched in 2019 and allows for many additional packages to be thrown in. The percentage of recycling of household plastic packaging waste is also improving, from 43% to 46%. In addition, the new bag stimulates the local economy through the construction of new modern sorting centers and the creation of new jobs. All advantages!

The New Blue Bag was introduced on 1 April 2019. Since then, more than 4 million Belgians have begun using the expanded PMD collection. A considerable amount of additional packaging can be placed in the bag, as a result of which an average of 5 extra kilograms household packaging waste per resident could be selectively collected. That amounts to 4000 extra tonnes plastic that can be recycled. Since this packaging is then sorted into 14 separate material flows for recycling, the New Blue Bag gives clear impetus to the circular economy for packaging.

Sorting: a question of habit

Packaging is necessary in order to protect delicate products during transport, prevent food spoilage or for hygienic reasons. That does not mean that the life span of packaging materials must be short. As long as packaging is correctly sorted and then recycled after use, this is part of the circular economy for packaging. An important link in this chain is placing PMD in the blue bag. As sorting champions, Belgians are used to sorting their household packaging waste. And with success: today, we recycle 92.5% of the household packaging on the Belgian market. Whatever ends up in the PMD bag or bin will be further sorted into different material flows for recycling. This turns waste into the raw materials for new packaging or into other products.

The New Blue Bag goes another step farther. The P in PMD no longer stands for Plastic bottles and flasks alone, but for Plastic packaging. Plastic film and containers that initially could not be placed in the blue bag now can. Removing that packaging from residual waste means they can be recycled. The contents of the PMD bag or bin will thus be further sorted, resulting in 14 material flows. In due course, that will hopefully rise even more.

Recycling creates jobs

The New Blue Bag has been introduced in phases in Belgium since 1 April 2019, beginning with the IDM intermunicipal waste company in the area of Lokeren and Verko near Dendermonde. Since then, 4.1 million residents have started using it. The average collection in the Blue Bag amounts to almost 15 kg per resident per year. In municipalities where the New Blue Bag has been introduced, these figures have risen to more than 19 kg. By the end of 2020, when the whole country will be covered, that will yield in an additional 85,000 tonnes.

It is therefore a priority to have sufficient capacity to process the additional material flows. Indaver, Valodec and PreZero have already undertaken to build three new high-tech sorting centres in Belgium, which will create a total of 250 new jobs. Valtris is expanding its existing capacity. In all, five new sorting centres will be built. In addition, hard work is being done on increasing recycling capacity close to home. Today, all selectively collected household packaging waste is recycled in Europe in any case. With calls for proposals, investments are now being invited to bring recycling to Belgium. The New Blue Bag is in this way providing stimulus to the local economy.

Fost Plus as an engine of the circular economy for packaging

The expansion of PMD collection is an important priority that allows Fost Plus to contribute to the circular economy for packaging in Belgium. By removing packaging from residual waste, the recycling rates are rising and those materials are in fact given a second life. Everyone has his or her own responsibility within that loop. Residents by sorting properly. And that is indeed the case: on average, the blue bags collected from door-to-door contain less than 5% of material that does not belong there. Packaging companies also play an important role. Fost Plus is working with them to bring ever better and more easily recyclable packaging to the market. Lastly, the recycling technology itself, in which substantial investments were made in order to turn Belgium into a pioneer in this regard.

Fost Plus occupies a central place along all the partners in the chain: packaging companies, municipalities, cities and intermunicipal companies, collection, sorting and recycling companies, and the public. This way, Fost Plus ensures that the objectives for household packaging waste in Belgium are achieved concretely and efficiently.

Would you like to know more? Read our 2019 activity report here.