Local circular economy

New sorting and recycling capacity in Belgium

Objective

Thanks to the introduction of the New Blue Bag, an additional 90,000 tonnes of packaging comes onto the sustainable recycling market every year. This means that a lot of new sorting and recycling capacity is needed. Fost Plus aims to develop this as much as possible here in Belgium and is attracting the necessary investments.

Context

Fost Plus has always endeavoured to keep as much recycling as possible close to home. All the packaging from the PMD bag is recycled to produce new raw materials in Europe, with almost 80% of it done here in Belgium. This avoids transport over long distances and also contributes to the local economy and employment. With the New Blue Bag, we aim to take this a step further.

Approach

The arrival of the New Blue Bag is having a huge impact on the entire household packaging recycling chain in Belgium. With 90,000 tonnes of additional packaging every year, extra capacity was most certainly needed. The composition of the PMD is also changing radically, with new material flows such as PET trays, polyethylene film, polystyrene and polypropylene.

As a result, the existing sorting centres were confronted with a great many technological challenges. Whereas the contents of the PMD bags used to be sorted into nine material flows, the new scenario comprises fourteen. This number may well rise still further in the future. This meant that completely new sorting centres were needed, equipped with the very latest technologies.

Fost Plus launched a market consultation process for the construction of these new sorting centres here in Belgium. Five projects were retained: Indaver in Willebroek, Pre-Zero in Evergem, Val’Up in Mons, Valtris in Charleroi and Sitel in Liège. The first two sorting centres have been operational since early 2021 and by the end of this year, four of the five centres will be running at full capacity.
At the same time, Fost Plus also began looking for companies that can ensure sustainable recycling of the packaging from the New Blue Bag, with a clear preference for partners that are prepared to invest in new recycling capacity in Belgium. The first three investment projects were announced in December 2020.

Mineral water producer Sources ALMA, together with waste expert Suez, is investing in a bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Charleroi. PET bottles collected from Belgian consumers will be recycled here and then used as raw materials for new bottles, intended mainly for the Belgian market.

Bionerga and Ecoo are building a plant together to recycle polyethylene film – from outer packaging and bags, among other things – to make new film. In addition, Ecoo is also developing new capacity to recycle non-polyethylene films and mixed hard plastic packaging.
Meanwhile, discussions are under way for several additional investment projects involving the recycling of specific flows from the New Blue Bag.

Partners

Fost Plus
Indaver, Pre-Zero, Val’Up, Valtris, Sitel, Sources ALMA, Bionerga, Ecoo
 

Duration

2020-2024