Press Release

PR | Zakia Khattabi sets new proposals to move away from single-use plastic

The Federal Minister for the Environment, Zakia Khattabi, launches this Friday a consultation of various advisory councils (consumer, sustainable development, economy, health) and stakeholders on new proposals regarding single-use plastics. The aim is to reduce the amount of disposable plastic waste and packaging containing toxic substances, while at the same time supporting reuse and recycling.

In Belgium, recycling of plastic packaging increased from 25% to 45% between 2000 and 2020. At the same time, the amount of waste coming from plastic packaging has increased from 244,000 tonnes to 369,000 tonnes (+51%), and according to recent studies, plastic packaging makes up about 40% of the total volume of litter.

"Every year, the amount of plastic in the oceans increases, and microplastics are showing up everywhere, including in our food and even in our blood!! Fortunately, there is a growing awareness of the need to take action against this plastic pollution by intervening at the source," says Zakia Khattabi. 

By 2026, the European Single Use Plastic Directive seeks to have significantly less of a variety of single-use utensils in use. Both the national government and the regions must put this into action. "In September 2021, on my initiative, the federal government adopted a Royal Decree introducing a progressive ban on single-use plastics. For example, the sale of disposable plastic plates and cutlery has been banned since the beginning of this year. In an effort to go above and beyond what the European proposal suggests, I have included a ban on the sale of certain disposable plastic bags and cups starting from 17 January 2023. This will give a significant boost to reusable alternatives," she carried on.

By introducing a number of new proposals to gradually phase out the marketing of single-use plastics that can be easily avoided or replaced with reusable alternatives, the Minister is now taking her ambition one step further.

This includes :

- plastic trays and containers used in food stalls or catering establishments for on-the-spot or take-away consumption

- plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables that can easily be sold separately;

- stickers on fruit and vegetables, plastic tea bags, non-compostable coffee capsules, and also other small plastics such as confetti which at best ends up in the residual waste and at worst remains in our soil;

- packaging used for advertisements that people receive in their mailboxes.

"Furthermore, my intention is to put forward, via this new Royal Decree, a proposal to ban the use of PFAS in single-use packaging. These are used in the manufacture of waterproof cardboard boxes and paper packaging. Given their impact on our health (environmental and human) and the existence of PFAS-free alternatives on the market, the use of packaging containing PFAS is no longer justified. The spread of these everlasting chemicals in the environment is already causing significant issues in Belgium.

"Finally, the text also includes a proposal in order for certain plastic products to contain a minimum amount of recycled plastic. After all, it is not enough to sort plastic waste for recycling, we must also ensure that producers use sufficient amounts of recycled material in new products. By doing this, we stimulate the demand for recycled plastics, which benefits the recycling sector," she concludes.