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Story 9: A Green Deal Packed Differently in Belgium Focusses on Reuse
A Flemish initiative called the “Green Deal Anders Verpakt” or “Green Deal Packed Differently” aims to reduce the amount of disposable packaging in the distribution sector with the establishment of new reusable packaging initiatives across the region, and a focus on prevention.
Many communities in Europe have adopted the updated Zero Waste Europe hierarchy of waste management, which has a greater focus on new “R”s before reuse: refuse, rethink, redesign, and reduce. This hierarchy was adopted by the Flemish region of Belgium in its efforts to prevent waste, and as guidance in its implementation of new waste prevention initiatives, see details below.
For this Green Deal, prevention is understood as the complete elimination of single use packaging. In promoting the sustainable use of raw materials, the Green Deal further intends to shift the focus of efforts from collection and recycling to other distribution and consumption models aimed at reducing one-way packaging. To achieve prevention and reuse of packaging the initiative is looking at the entire chain of production and not only the final product. It is not about reducing the weight of packaging (quantitative prevention) or reducing harmful substances in packaging (qualitative prevention) but rather finding alternatives that reduce total use of one-way packaging.
As of March 2022, over 80 companies and organizations signed onto the Flemish Green Deal. The organizations represent stakeholders at all points of the supply chain as well as companies specializing in the logistics of collecting, washing, and delivering reusables. Participants in the project will spend the next three years collaborating in identifying solutions to stimulate the prevention and reuse of packaging in the distribution sector. The projects within the Green Deal give consumers in shops more choices to avoid buying single-use packaging.
Key players in the Green Deal are brand owners who develop refilling stations for their product lines. Delhaize and Ecover installed refilling stations for a series of Ecover products in Belgium. These refilling stations have already been trialled in two shops in Flanders, but Ecover is rolling out the project further together with Delhaize as part of the Green Deal. The plan is to make refill the standard for everyday shopping behaviour.
The European Union (EU) project on Reducing Plastic Waste in Canada