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Story 6: Expanded Residential EPR for “Out of Home”: Belgium Fost Plus is a Clear Leader
Fost Plus has been the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) responsible for overseeing the EPR program for residential packaging waste across the country. In recent years the PRO has taken on a leadership role in expanding and streamlining services, driving a circular economy through an EPR approach.
Belgium was one of the first countries to regulate packaging recycling for the residential sector, with the PRO Fost Plus established to collect residential packaging waste curbside in 1994. Fost Plus coordinates the chain of public and private parties is involved in the collection, sorting and recycling of packaging: authorities and intermunicipal companies, collection companies, sorting centres and recycling companies, producers and consumers. Fost Plus promotes cooperation all along the chain. Recently, Fost Plus rolled out the use of a standardized blue bag for recycling from the residential sector across the country, with consistent materials accepted in the program across the country, in all local governments.
Most recently, Fost Plus has been expanding activity into “out of home” recycling bin infrastructure and associated public education campaigns to encourage recycling of residential packaging on the go, wherever this packaging might be consumed (e.g. schools, parks, transport hubs, etc.). There are now incentives offered for accessing recycling bins “out of home” or “on the go” in local public domains, with rewards offered. There is a smartphone app where a recycling bin can be scanned on a smartphone so a consumer can collect points for recycling to be exchanged at local merchants. As well, Fost Plus has developed pilot projects in schools and hospitals to get the Institutional sector engaged in recycling residential type packaging.
In 2021 Fost Plus established a pilot project where the contents of garbage bins are collected from public waste are, sorted, and recyclables are sent for recycling. This pilot test is ongoing in various towns and cities across Belgium. The waste from public rubbish bins is sorted in Sambreville, where the company has installed a brand-new high-tech sorting line with optical separators. The sorted packaging is then taken to the usual sorting centres where it follows the same path as the packaging collected curbside.
Fost Plus aims to contribute to the circular economy in Belgium. All the packaging that is collected is recycled to produce new raw materials in Belgium or neighbouring countries, avoiding transport over long distances. With the building of new sorting centres and recycling plants in Belgium due to the success and program expansion of both Fostplus and Valipac, over the coming years no less than EUR 700 million is being invested in the local circular economy. All of this expansion activity as led to the development of five new sorting facilities and five new recycling facilities all in Belgium, and as such is stimulating the local recycling economy. Almost 95% of all residential packaging is now collected and recycled in Belgium.
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