There is more to PMD

The New Blue Bag got off to a great start. More than four million Belgians are already using it.

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At a glance

New Blue Bag for more than four million Belgians

The intermunicipal companies IDM and Verko were the first to introduce the New Blue Bag in their municipalities in April 2019. Later the same year, MIWA, IVM, Ibogem, ILvA, IVOO, MIROM, Intradel and BEP followed suit and, by the end of 2019, coverage had reached 3.2 million inhabitants. In early 2020, the New Blue Bag was introduced by Ivago, Ipalle and IVLA, bringing the system to a total of 4.1 million inhabitants. Existing hybrid collection systems remain in place throughout the country. As a result, almost every Belgian already benefits from the expanded PMD collection in some way. In 2021, we will be moving towards a uniform system, with the New Blue Bag for everyone.

“The New Blue Bag is a unique opportunity to develop a circular packaging economy locally, with new sorting centres and recycling capacity for plastics here in Belgium.”

Recycling rate for plastic packaging increases to a 46%

Once the New Blue Bag has been rolled out across the country, we will be collecting 85,000 tonnes of additional plastic packaging each year. That represents an extra 8 kilos per inhabitant per year. From initial indications in municipalities where the New Blue Bag has already been introduced, it appears that people are sorting with enthusiasm. Compared to 2018, we collected more than 5,700 tonnes of extra plastic packaging in these municipalities. The average collection rate increased with almost 5 kilos per inhabitant compared to the national average (19.34 kilogram versus 14.68).

Quality of the materials has also proven to be good. Citizens are picking up the new sorting rules very well. On average, the bags contain less than 5% of materials that do not belong in them. The national recycling rate for plastic packaging increased to 46% in 2019.

By 2020, we will be recycling 50% of all plastic packaging, which means Belgium will already have achieved the Europe-wide goal for 2025. In 2023, with the New Blue Bag implemented across the country, this number will further rise to 65%.

Three new sorting centres for the new blue bag. From top to bottom: Indaver in Willebroek, PreZero in Evergem, Valodec in Mons

Construction of new sorting centres started

The New Blue Bag can now receive many more different types of packaging and plastics. They are sorted into 14 separate material flows, which we can recycle in an effective manner. The number of flows will probably increase in the future. This requires advanced sorting centres that not only have the necessary capacity but are also sufficiently flexible to keep up with the rapid evolution in packaging.

Construction of three new sorting centres by Indaver, Valodec and PreZero began in 2019, representing an investment of EUR 300 million and 250 extra jobs. The first centre should be operational in early 2021. At the beginning of 2020, Fost Plus also reached an agreement with Valtris to build a new sorting centre. Meanwhile, an agreement in principle has been reached with Sitel. With five sorting centres on Belgian soil, there will be capacity to sort all the packaging from the New Blue Bag.

Recycling capacity in Belgium

Packaging from the blue PMD bag has always been recycled into secondary raw materials in Belgium and neighbouring countries. With the New Blue Bag, Fost Plus is taking things one step further. For the (new) plastic flows, we are developing recycling capacity in our own country. Criteria for awarding contracts to recycling companies have been adapted for this purpose, extending the term of the contracts to nine years and therefore providing interested parties guarantees in terms of volumes. This offers potential investors the necessary security. We are seeing a great deal of enthusiasm among existing and new players to start building new recycling facilities in Belgium.

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