EU Self-Regulation Waste Management

Belgian Plastic Waste Plan is Weak

The Flemish Government (Flemish dutch speaking region) asked the packaging industry to come up with a plan to reduce the use of plastics and litter. The plan the industry came up with lacks ambition. Some consider the plan to be a bit of a joke in fact.

Flemish Environment Minister proposed a plan to reduce waste last month. A deposit scheme for plastic bottles was included in the plan but the minister got resistance from the liberal Party (Open VLD) and the regionalist / nationalist party (N-VA).

The government gave the right of initiative to the industry (a right of self-regulation) to ensure a compromise would be found: retailers, small shop owners and the food industry were asked to come up with a proposal.

However, the plan they came up with doesn’t seem to please everyone. In fact, everyone seems to find the industry plan very weak. The most important elements of the plan are:

  • Single use plastic bags at the cashier would be removed by 2020.
  • Single use plastic bags at the fruit and vegetable counter would be removed after 2022.
  • Nothing was mentioned about the deposit scheme. The industry proposes to collect 95% of all beverage packaging by 2022 but the plan doesn’t say how they will do it.

When compared to decisions taken in Canada, New Zealand, UK or America … it’s very weak. Belgium seem to be resilient to change. In addition, it’s not even a national approach but more of a regional approach.

There are local and provincial elections on 14 October 2018. Its not sure whether the Minister will shake the tree or let it flow till after those elections. They’re so many elections in Belgium, that it could well be that the industry plays a cat and mouse game with the minister until the next big elections planned on 26 May 2019 (Regional, Federal, European)….the mother of all elections.

Closing Remarks

The symbol of Flanders is a lion. Well we’ll see if the lion is going to eat plastics tonight.

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