EU Plastic Bans Politics & Legislation Self-Regulation

Flanders Government Decides on Plastic Packaging

Flemish Government (BE) has taken its decision regarding plastic packaging.

Belgium is divided in 3 regions: Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia. Flanders is the northern region where people speak Dutch or Flemish, the same language as in the Netherlands. Flanders is the most populated region in Belgium and their most famous city is Antwerpen.

flanders bans plastic bags

Flemish Government’s Decisions

Here are the decisions taken by the Flanders government this weekend to reduce litter. The decisions will only apply to Flanders and not to the rest of Belgium (Brussels and Wallonia).

  • There will be no (mandatory) deposit system on cans and plastic bottles at this point in time. Test projects involving incentives will be organised: sport clubs or municipalities can organise a collection of litter and the volunteers can be rewarded per kg collected litter. A deposit system may be introduced at the earliest in 2023 if the collection and recycling objectives are not met.
  • There will be a mandatory use of reusable plastic cups during festivals.
  • Stickers on fruit and vegetables will be banned as they cause problem during composting. There will be an exception for stickers with a functional purpose such as expiry date and scan code. However, some Flemish media reported that these functional stickers would also be banned.
  • The regional Flemish government and the local governments of the Flemish region cannot use plastic cups and cutlery anymore.
  • A ban on single use plastic bags. Some media reported that all plastic bags were banned while some reported that free single use plastic bags were banned. In other words, reusable plastic bags will be sold in shops.

The industry seems to be happy with this decisions especially regarding the absence of a deposit system on plastic bottles and cans.

Industry’s Reaction

The industry have expressed their willingness to self-regulate by:

  • increasing collection and recycling rates;
  • investing in reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging; and
  • gradually removing plastic bags in the retail sector.

The retail industry federation (COMEOS) stated that

  • by 2022, 90 % of the beverage packaging must be recycled;
  • by 2025, all packaging should be reusable, recyclable or compostable; and
  • the 2030 objectives of the European Commission regarding recycling, will be reached by 2025.

The independent shop owners federation (NSZ) was not happy about the absence of incentives for the switch to reusable bags. They would like some incentives to help independent shop owners to switch from single use to reusable bags.

The Flemish Government anno 2018.

flanders plastic bags ban

ClOSING REMARKS

  • Belgian political structures are the apotheose of institutionalised inefficiency. Political correctness has been the motto instead of efficiency. In his context, industry self-regulation may be more efficient than laws.
  • Belgian institutions allow every segment of the population to be represented: French (Wallonia & Brussels) vs Flemish (Flanders), secular vs catholic, liberal vs socialist, nationalist vs regionalist, progressive vs conservative. Although this may seem democratic; it leads to an overpopulated political class, political dynasties and a very high income tax rate to finance this political nomenclature.

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