The Brussels news website brusselnieuws.be reports that only a quarter of the household waste in the Belgian capital is today being sorted. The use of blue PMD bags for plastic bottles and the like has fallen dramatically.
Since 2010 the people of Brussels face a fine if they fail to sort their refuse.When the fine was introduced it certainly had an effect. General waste, unsorted waste in the white bags fell significantly and there was a rise in the amount of plastic bottles, paper, cardboard and glass sorted separately.
Today the people of Brussels are showing far greater enthusiasm for sorting their refuse. The number of white bags for general waste has again increased. In 2012 over 320,000 tons of waste was collected in white bags. This compares to only 306,000 tons two years earlier.
The number of blue bags being collected, intended for recyclable plastic bottles and the like, has fallen. Only 11,000 tons of waste was collected in blue bags in 2012. This compares to an impressive 16,000 tons two years previously.
The Brussels Environment Council insists that threatening with fines only has a limited effect and people soon get used to the fines. The council suggests that people in Brussels should pay more for individual bags for general waste including a fee that takes account of the cost of treating the waste and which should work as a deterrent.
The practice is already widespread in Flanders and Wallonia. If people have to pay more for the bags, they will use them more sparingly and will be keener to sort their waste.