Sorting and recycling household waste
Rubbish must be sorted at source in order for it to be recycled.
Some types of rubbish are collected at your house. But you can also dispose of it at collection points and container parks.
Companies maintain contacts with specialised, regional government institutions to manage their commercial and industrial waste.
More information about container parks and other collection points in Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region can be found on your municipality website.
The following categories of rubbish can be sorted:
- Glass: empty bottles and jars without cap or lid. In most municipalities, clear glass and coloured glass must be separated. New glass containers are made from the recycled glass. Warning: ceramics, tempered glass, pyrex or fireproof glass, mirrors, window panes and lightbulbs must not be included in the glass waste, but disposed of with bulky waste at the container park.
- Paper and cardboard: newspapers, magazines, boxes and similar must be sufficiently clean to be recycled. Warning: paper tissues, kitchen roll, stickers, juice boxes, carbon paper and wallpaper, dirty or greasepaper and cellophane paper are not recyclable as paper and should be kept separately and disposed of in the regulation bag for non-sorted waste.
- PMD waste: packaging made of Plastic or Metal and Drink cartons are used for recycling purposes to make new packaging, textile fibres, etc. Warning: butter wrappers, plastic pots (eg. yoghurt pots), packaging for hazardous and poisonous products, plastic bags and aluminium foil must not be included with the PMD waste. Put these in the regulation bag for non-sorted rubbish.
- GFT and organic waste: Greens (vegetables), Fruit and Tuinafval (garden waste), trimmings, grass and leaves are compostable. This waste can be collected at your home. It is also easy to compost it yourself or to take it to the container park. Warning: timber used for construction, charcoal and mussel shells are not suitable for composting.
In the Brussels Capital Region, garden waste is only collected from April until the end of November, in 11 municipalities. You can also go to collection points in 8 municipalities. More information about garden waste in the Brussels Capital Region (in French or Dutch) can be found on the Net Brussels website (under Garden Waste).
- Small hazardous waste or small chemical waste: syringes, fluorescent lamps, detergents, cosmetics, paint and varnish, used oil, pesticides and similar are harmful to the health and the environment. They need to be collected separately. Batteries should be deposited in the many BEBAT collection boxes in supermarkets, petrol stations, etc. Car batteries can be brought to the container park or to your garage mechanic. In Brussels, these collection points are called 'groene plekjes' (‘green spots’). They can be found in regional container parks. Brussels has just started a Mobile Green Spot service, a van that arrives in set locations on set days to pick up chemical household waste.
- You can bring old and expired medications to your local chemist.
- Building waste and rubble should be brought to the container park.
Be careful when disposing of waste containing asbestos. Asbestos cement should also be disposed of separately in the container park. The container for building waste and rubble must not be contaminated with asbestos cement. Warning: Waste containing asbestos is not accepted in the Brussels Capital Region container parks. You can call on the services of companies that specialise in handling asbestos.
- Reusable textiles: clothing, shoes, bed linen and similar are picked up at your home or collected at the container park, in textile containers or kringloopcentra.
- Discarded electrical and electronic appliances: refrigerators, televisions, computers, washing machines and similar can be handed in for free at the container park. In Flanders, appliances that still work can be offered to the kringwinkel. When you buy a new appliance, the seller is obliged to take in your old appliance.