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Focus: tonnage of household and assimilated waste

In 2014, 473,000 tonnes of household and assimilated waste were collected by Bruxelles Propreté, all types of collections combined. The quantity of household and assimilated waste collected by Bruxelles Propreté increased at a trend rate until 2002. Since then, a downward trend has been observed, followed by a stabilising in recent years.

Of these 473,000 tonnes collected in 2014, slightly more than 336,000 tonnes are estimated to come exclusively from households. To this can be added the waste collected by municipalities, neighbourhood composts, the social economy and the organisms responsible for the take-back obligations. These amount to more than 27,000 tonnes.

Some definitions…

The waste produced by inhabitants and collected from houses is referred to as household waste. Waste of a similar nature as household waste but collected from professionals (offices, schools, administrations, small businesses, communities, etc.) is referred to as "assimilated waste".

In the Brussels Region, the operator Bruxelles Propreté (whose official name is the Agence régionale pour la Propreté - Regional Agency for Cleanliness) is the only competent authority to organise collections of household waste. However in reality, other actors also participate in this collection: municipalities (via municipal recycling parks), companies of the social economy (for waste from electric and electronic equipment, bulky waste, textile waste, etc.) and take-back obligation systems (Récupel, Bebat, Valorfrit, etc.). All of these actors provide a supplementary collection service for citizens.

Assimilated waste is often collected at the same time as household waste (some professionals have a removal contract but many do not have a contract and take advantage of household collections to get rid of their waste for free, see the focus on the Proportion and management of waste prepared with the aim of reuse and recycling).

Finally, collections concern both residual waste (in other words, waste for which there is no selective sorting [definitions borrowed from BISA, 2014]) and various sorted waste flows (paper/cardboard waste, PMD, garden waste, bio-waste, glass, 'bulky' waste, chemical waste).

Different collectors for household and assimilated waste

Bruxelles Propreté visits households at least twice a week (situation as of Dec. 2015). The door to door collections take not only household waste but also a part of the so-called "assimilated" waste (see above).
In order to estimate the proportion of assimilated waste in the waste collected door to door, the Region has set up (in collaboration with the ULB) an analysis of deposits which makes possible the distinction between household waste and assimilated waste among the waste collected by Bruxelles Propreté.

On the other hand, in order to estimate the total amount of household waste collected, the data pertaining to collections organised by municipalities, neighbourhood composts, the social economy and the systems put in place for take-back obligations also need to be taken into account.
The overall tonnage of assimilated waste in the BCR is more difficult to estimate: there has always been an unknown and probably variable proportion of assimilated waste which has been collected by private operators.

It should be noted that up until 2013, professionals were not obliged to separate waste, or conclude a commercial contract with a registered (private or public) collector. The implementation decree (Government Decree of the Brussels-Capital Region) of 21 June 2012 changed this situation. Too many professional producers of waste still take advantage of this exemption by neglecting to conclude a contract for the collection of their waste. That is why the exemption for professionals who produce less than 30L  of residual waste or 50L/week of PMD or 30L/week of paper and cardboard waste, has been withdrawn. From now on, the bags and containers used for professional waste must clearly indicate the name of the collector.

Tonnage of household and assimilated waste

The household and assimilated waste collected door to door by Bruxelles Propreté (all collections combined) represents one-quarter of all waste produced in the Region, namely 478,000 tonnes (in 2015) of the 1,760,000 tonnes, according to the most recent study on the subject [Ecores et al. 2015, table 25, based on the data from 2011 and 2012].

Evolution of the tonnages of waste collected by Bruxelles Propreté (all collections combined)
Source: Bruxelles Propreté, 2015



This quantity of household and door to door waste collected by Bruxelles Propreté (all waste combined) increased at a trend rate until 2002. Since then, this upward trend has reversed to gradually reduce from 509,000 tonnes to 478,000 tonnes in 2015.  However there has been a stabilising in recent years.

These evolutions can be explained in various ways:

  • the economic slowdown (increased number of bankruptcies and winding-up of businesses),
  • behavioural changes in households and businesses leading to a reduction in waste production,
  • or the fact that assimilated waste is now collected on the basis of commercial contracts and no longer appear in the datasets published by Bruxelles Propreté for household and assimilated waste.

In any event, as explained previously, the lack of data on assimilated waste collected by the private sector means that we cannot accurately know the situation for this category of waste.
However with regards to household waste, the analysis of deposits conducted recently makes the distinction between household waste and assimilated waste among the waste collected by Bruxelles Propreté possible. As such, according to the available estimates, the share of assimilated waste in the total volume of residual waste collected from door to door is around 33%. This share is more variable (between years) for the yellow and blue bags, and is estimated respectively at 21 and 5% on average (according to Bruxelles Propreté, in a communication from 2015). 

So, for 2014, according to the data from Bruxelles Propreté, the quantity of household waste collected (all types of collections combined) by Bruxelles-Propreté amounts to slightly more than 336,000 tonnes (of a total of 473,000 collected tonnes).

As previously indicated, in order to estimate the total amount of household waste collected, the data pertaining to collections organised by municipalities, neighbourhood composts, the social economy and the systems put in place for take-back obligations also need to be taken into account. This was estimated at 27,000 tonnes for 2014.

The quantity of household waste collected in the Brussels Region therefore amounted to nearly 364,000 tonnes in 2014 (all collections combined, of which more than 90% was collected via Bruxelles Propreté), or 345,000 tonnes excluding construction waste and cleaning sludge.
 

Date de mise à jour: 14/12/2017
Documents: 

State of the Environment’s sheet(s)

Door-to-door collected waste (edition 2011-2012)

Other publications from Brussels Environment

Report concerning the evaluation of the 4th "prevention and management of waste" plan, april 2015, 96 pages without annexes (internal report, in French only)

Study(ies) and report(s)

BISA, april 2014. « Environnement et Energie - Méthodologie » 39 pp. (.pdf, in French and Dutch only)

ECORES sprl, ICEDD, BATir (ULB), july 2015. « Métabolisme de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale: identification des flux, acteurs et activités économiques sur le territoire et pistes de réflexion pour l’optimisation des ressources ». Study performed on behalf of Brussels Environment, 305 pp. (in French only) (.pdf)

BRUXELLES PROPRETÉ. Annual reports, various years  (.pdf, in French and Dutch only)