Valipac, the Belgian organization for managing industrial packaging, and Stichting Afvalfonds Verpakkingen (rebranded as Verpact starting from March 1st), its Dutch counterpart for industrial and household packaging, have signed a collaboration agreement for the implementation of a certification system for plastic recyclers. This agreement marks the beginning of a European partnership aimed at ensuring that Belgian and Dutch packaging waste is recycled outside the EU according to European standards.

Plastic Press release/response , February 6, 2024 Enhancing transparency on a European scale Currently, Belgium and the Netherlands conduct inspections. Belgian and Dutch industrial packaging waste that is recycled outside the EU is exported under strict, legally defined conditions.

Valipac and Afvalfonds aim to better identify the final destinations of industrial plastic packaging waste and conduct audits at local recyclers to ensure compliance not only with local permit legislation but also with the applicable environmental standards, health, and safety regulations set by Europe and the Belgian and Dutch governments. Both organizations aim to ensure that recycling outside the EU is carried out in a similar manner as within the EU.

Stricter conditions for plastic export Through this collaboration, Valipac and Afvalfonds anticipate the consequences of new and stricter European rules and certification requirements for the export of plastic waste in the medium term. Starting from 2026, exporting plastic waste to non-OECD countries will no longer be permitted. Export of plastic waste to OECD countries will only be allowed if local facilities undergo an audit in advance to guarantee that recycling takes place under the same conditions as within Europe (the so-called Broadly Equivalent Conditions).

Valipac and Afvalfonds are closely collaborating on an audit protocol in line with the European Regulation on the Export of Waste. This audit protocol ensures a consistent interpretation of how the compliance between the final destination of plastic packaging waste and European regulations is assessed.

Improved identification of final destinations “With Valipac, Belgium has established a system to trace industrial plastic packaging waste a few years ago. To achieve this, we signed cooperation agreements with major traders in this field to identify the final destinations of Belgian-origin industrial packaging waste. Together with an independent auditing firm, we assess the compliance of final recyclers with the rules. Since the plastic packaging waste from the Netherlands follows the same routes, collaboration with Afvalfonds was obvious,” said Xavier Lhoir, Director of Operations and Circularity at Valipac.

“Belgium and the Netherlands are leaders in recycling packaging waste. Therefore, this collaboration is a logical step. With a joint certification system, we can increase the number of inspections and share the results of audits with recyclers. Dutch plastic packaging waste from households is processed in Europe, as well as a significant portion of industrial waste. By collaborating with Valipac, the recycling of industrial packaging waste from the Netherlands and Belgium is also better ensured. This makes a difference and ensures effective recycling of industrial plastic packaging waste. This aligns with our aim for a circular packaging chain, where valuable resources are preserved,” said Bianca Lambrechts, Director of Operations at Stichting Afvalfonds Verpakkingen.

Stricter conditions for plastic export Through this collaboration, Valipac and Stichting Afvalfonds Verpakkingen anticipate the consequences of new and stricter European rules and certification requirements for the export of plastic waste in the medium term. Starting from January 2028, exporting plastic waste to non-OECD countries will no longer be permitted, and OECD member states may only export plastic waste that has undergone an audit in advance.

Valipac and Stichting Afvalfonds Verpakkingen are closely collaborating on an audit protocol in line with the European Regulation on the Export of Waste. This audit protocol ensures a consistent interpretation of how the compliance between the final destination of plastic packaging waste and European regulations is assessed.