Belgian coalition agreement – Linking a deposit return system to the packaging tax is a smart decision

Belgian coalition agreement – Linking a deposit return system to the packaging tax is a smart decision

Recycling Netwerk Benelux congratulates the new Belgian government with their coalition agreement in which they include the possibility to incorporate a deposit return scheme in the packaging tax during this legislature

30 september 2020 Tom Zoete

“Norway has achieved great success with this method. This is a very good way of tackling pollution caused by plastic and cans”, environmental organization Recycling Netwerk Benelux says in response to the coalition agreement.

The Belgian federal coalition agreement stipulates: “It will be investigated in consultation with the regions and the sector whether the incorporation of a deposit scheme in the packaging tax is desirable”.

“The Belgian federal coalition agreement is perfectly in line with the deposit plans that the regional Walloon and Brussels governments included in their respective coalition agreements last year. It is the only way in which Belgium will be able to meet the requirements of the European directive on disposable plastics. Belgians will experience a noticeable improvement of their living environment, as a deposit return system reduces the number of cans and bottles in nature by 70 to 90 percent,” says Recycling Netwerk.

The European Single Use Plastic Directive 2019/904 (SUP Directive) stipulates that all plastic bottles must contain at least 25% recycled plastic (rPET) by 2025. This deadline coincides with the end of the Belgian federal legislature. Secondly, member States are obliged to collect 90% of plastic bottles separately by 2029. It is common knowledge that this can only be achieved by introducing a deposit on the beverage packaging. European Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who is responsible for the SUP Directive, therefore advises European member states to introduce a deposit return system.

With a deposit return system, Norway collects separately about 90 percent of plastic bottles and cans. The example of Lithuania shows that a deposit return system can achieve high collection rates very quickly. Lithuania introduced a deposit return system in February 2016. Within 1 year, the collection rate increased from 74.3% at the end of 2016 to 91.9% at the end of 2017. It is because of these figures and the European 90% separated collection target that a series of European countries have already decided to introduce deposit return systems.

With a deposit return system, the collected plastic is much cleaner. With such pure material, companies are able to make new PET bottles from old PET bottles. Coca-Cola Netherlands said earlier this month that they will start producing such 100% rPET bottles in the Netherlands – which they are able to do because the Dutch government already decided in April to put a deposit on all plastic bottles. With a deposit return system, Belgian companies will also be able to switch to PET bottles made from 100% recycled material, collected in Belgium.

“We therefore encourage the Belgian federal government to quickly and ambitiously work out the bills transposing the European directive and incorporating the deposit scheme into the packaging tax. In doing so, Belgium will catch up with the trend of the European member states that use deposits to tackle plastic pollution and litter”, environmental organization Recycling Netwerk Benelux concludes.

Finally, Recycling Netwerk Benelux would like to thank all people, volunteers, litter pickers, local administrators, members of parliament, staff members, experts and policy makers, who actively voice their support for a deposit return system – and in particular all 1,086 partners of the Deposit Alliance (Statiegeldalliantie) who have been advocating since 2017 for the introduction of a deposit return system on cans and all plastic bottles in the Netherlands and Belgium.