Ambitious plan for Valipac
The new accreditation of Valipac, the accredited compliance organisation for industrial and commercial packaging waste, understandably captured much of our attention in 2021. We received the application around the middle of the year, but had already spent time identifying expectations and focal points for the new accreditation, including circularity, transparency and recycling in Europe. This proactive approach enabled us to process the application quickly and efficiently. It will certainly be worth using the same procedure when the time comes to prepare for the new Fost Plus accreditation.
The new Valipac accreditation came into force on 1 January 2022 for a period of five years. Our hard work has resulted in an ambitious text that is more committed than ever to the circular economy, focusing on selective collection, recycling within Europe, prevention, eco-modulation, circularity, transparency, and reuse of industrial and commercial packaging waste, while fully respecting the free market. The accreditation pays particular attention to the situation of SMEs, including the unpackers’ payment system.
The accreditation builds on the previous strategy of maximising high-quality recycling within Europe and, wherever possible, within Belgium itself. This should reach 100% by 2030.
Transparency is crucial. All recycling channels must be clearly documented. Valipac and the IRPC are jointly working on a detailed inspection programme, with a view to also introducing systematic auditing of final recyclers. This will enable us to ensure that all industrial and commercial packaging waste collected is actually recycled under the right conditions. Belgium leads the way in Europe in this area.
By applying adjusted rates, we are encouraging the use of post-consumer recycled material and discouraging non-recyclable packaging.
The new accreditation focuses on more than just the waste phase. An ambitious programme with clear objectives puts the spotlight more firmly on prevention, combined with reuse. On the operations front, additional new measures should boost Valipac’s impact: for example, through pilot projects we are striving for circularity.
High-quality recycling of household packaging waste in Belgium
2021 was also the year in which Fost Plus continued its efforts to achieve high-quality recycling of household waste within our national borders. The new, expanded blue bag has been in use throughout Belgium since the end of 2021 and now seems to have become part of people’s everyday lives.
The Val’Up, Valtris, Prezero and Indaver sorting plants are now up and running, while the new Sitel facility is under construction. The new line at the Ecoo Houthalen recycling plant, which is already operational, and the award of recycling contracts for PET to Filao, which is currently being built, and, in 2022, to Mopet Belgique, are also significant steps towards achieving a circular economy.
Additional streams and litter
Through the Extended Producer Responsibility Interregional Platform (EPRIP), we have been working hard to prepare a new cooperation agreement with two focal points.
On the one hand, the agreement aims to create an interregional framework for dealing with streams other than packaging waste that are subject to the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR). On the other hand, it seeks to pass on the costs of managing litter and cleaning up public areas to those that cause these waste streams, in line with the obligations under the new EU directive on single-use plastic.
Sustainable way of working post-Covid
The IRPC has accomplished all this work in a “hybrid” way, to use the current buzzword. We prefer the term “sustainable”, because it reflects the needs of our team.
Even after lockdown, we felt the effects of the Covid measures on our operations and our employees, although things did improve. We’re now able to have meetings in the same room again, and that’s a welcome development.
Even so… Constantly switching between home and office, between offline and online, and sometimes combining the two during a meeting: everyone has to find a way that works for them, not least in terms of their own well-being. We expect that we will have to keep adapting our working practices to the government’s pandemic policy for several months yet, if not longer: sometimes at home, sometimes hybrid, and then back to business as usual. However, the experience of the past few years will have made us stronger in this respect, because we will have become more flexible.