Canal It Up in debate on Vlaams Parlement TV about the introduction of the deposit system

Vlaams Parlement TV invited us for a debate on litter and the introduction of a deposit system for cans and plastic bottles. The other speakers were Steve Vandenberghe, mayor of Bredene and member of parliament, and Wim Geens, CEO of Fost Plus. We have never been closer to the introduction of a deposit system than today.

The start of the debate was extensively about the fact that Belgium is champion in recycling with the blue bag. We specified that recycling does not really belong in a debate about litter. It is one thing that Belgians throws their waste in the right bin at home, but that does not help to avoid litter. Moreover, Belgium is not a recycling champion in everything, for the recycling of plastic packaging from household products we are in 10th place in Europe with 46% collection, 9 other countries do better than us. On the other hand, we only reach the 90% collection of beverage packaging by including the collection of glass, which is heavy. With the new European calculation method, we do not reach 90% for the sub-streams of PET, cans, and beverage cartons. Introducing a deposit system is the best method to collect the remaining bits.

During the debate a lot of time was spent discussing the proposal from Fost Plus and the industry to introduce a digital deposit system instead of the deposit system we already know. This gave this idea more legitimacy than it deserves. The proposal of a digital deposit, or in other words the development of an application for mobile phones, is the next diversion of the industry that does not want to introduce a classic deposit system. Fost Plus wants to keep the cans and bottles in their blue bags, the supermarkets do not want those drink packagings to return to the shops and the soft drink manufacturers do not want a deposit to be levied on their products. That is why they do everything they can to avoid the introduction of a deposit. 5 years ago, industries proposal was to solve the litter problem themselves with awareness raising campaigns, the government gave them the green light and subsequently the deposit system was not introduced. Today we are 5 years later and there is no improvement whatsoever in the litter problem. Moreover, the awareness raising of the industry with Mooimakers and Bewapp was and is a very perverse sensitization. All campaigns revolve around the consumer, they encourage everyone to start plogging, plalking, plajakking and plokying. The consumer pollutes, so the consumer must clean it up. Not a single campaign mentions the path to a circular economy with more reusable packaging, supermarkets offering less plastic, the production of cans and plastic bottles increasing year after year, or solutions such as deposit systems which are allready put in place in many of our neighboring countries. The full focus is on the consumer and the industry remains completely unaffected.

With the aim of giving the full picture, we also reported what the next battle will be, the quota for reusable packaging. In an ideal and realistic scenario, we can assume that the deposit system will be introduced in Belgium, the next step will then be to impose quotas on supermarkets and producers for the production and sale of reusable packaging. Europe is currently looking into this, and the industry has already begun to resist. They have built their machinery in such a way that they can mainly make and fill disposable packaging and do not want to make the investments to make more reusable packaging. This will be the next battleground.

Nature will continue to have a hard time for a while because of the financial interests of the industry.

Also watch the video we made to show that the industry’s proposal to introduce a digital deposit system can never work. It won’t reduce litter. What would happen is that the status quo would be preserved.