Two lessons from 2020 on PMD sorting

Two lessons from 2020 on PMD sorting

In so many ways this has been an extraordinary year for all of us, and that includes Fost Plus. We needed to be very agile and respond quickly in order to ensure the continuity of our operations and services. Despite this unusual situation, Fost Plus has succeeded in reaching its targets thanks to the flexibility and cooperation of all its partners. We have learned two major lessons from this unusual year.  

Fost Plus is the driving force behind the circular economy for packaging. To develop this circular economy, Fost Plus aims to provide a recycling solution for all household packaging placed on the Belgian market.

Our approach to collecting and recycling more packaging is built on two main foundations: extending the selective collection of household packaging at home and capturing a larger proportion of household waste outside the home.

First lesson learned: the simplified sorting message of the New Blue Bag has been widely accepted

Thanks to a wider range of waste that can be placed in  the PMD bag through the New Blue Bag scheme, there has been further growth in the letter P of PMD. Consumers can now put almost all other plastic household waste in this bag, including yoghurt pots, butter tubs and plastic punnets and films. Once it is rolled out across Belgium in mid-2021, the New Blue Bag will make it possible to collect 8kg of additional PMD packaging per inhabitant every year. This represents a total of 250,000 tonnes of PMD.

In the intermunicipal companies that already have the New Blue Bag, the message of sorting through this new scheme has been warmly welcomed and accepted by the public. The proportion of waste incorrectly placed in the PMD bag has fallen from 15% to 5%, which is a major effort! These results prove once again that the simple, consistent message around sorting, with a collecting system that makes sorting easier for the public, is vital to remain a European leader in recycling household waste.

Second lesson learned: the flexibility of our systems improves the percentage of household waste captured outside the home

Sorting waste in the out of home context works differently from domestic sorting. Nevertheless, it is important not to lose valuable materials in this context. Thanks to a degree of agility in constantly adapting its plans and goals, Fost Plus has achieved its targets for capturing out of home waste. Two major areas are notable.

  • Following the lockdowns and restrictions on the organisation of events, we have had to review the campaigns that were being planned for the summer of 2020. These were an extension of the campaign initiated at the Dour festival in 2019. As an alternative, in the ‘staycation’ project, which was clearly the trending idea this summer, we worked with five theme parks, zoos and holiday centres. By offering our expertise and updating the logistics with those involved in waste collection in each of these leisure centres, we managed to capture 50% of the additional PMD per visitor.
  • The greatest potential of uncaptured PMD is in  the workplace. A total of 25,000 tonnes of PMD is lost every year into residual waste from businesses, despite the obligation to sort. An action plan has therefore been developed in close collaboration with private waste operators. In 2020, 1200 companies moved into sorting, and these received a start-up premium.

It looks as if 2021 will be another year that will bring many new challenges. This year the New Blue Bag will be available throughout Belgium and extended PMD collections will be taking place in all contexts, including businesses. Other projects to encourage out of home sorting will also be developed. Stay tuned!