Waste management: sorting, then choosing the best disposal method

Please note:

A new legislation called Brudalex came into force at the beginning of 2017. The information on this page may not be completely up-to-date. Please check the Environment Brussels' website to be informed of the details (FR/NL).

1. General rules for all waste

It is prohibited to bury waste, burn it, or abandon it in a public or private place unless this site is designed for this purpose. If the “Agence Régionale pour la Propreté” gets involved, the invoice will be sent, as applicable, to the person responsible for the irregular abandonment of the waste or the owner of the site.

The storage or processing of waste often requires an environmental permit. As an example, the storage of non-dangerous inert waste over a minimum surface area of 100 m² or the storage of dangerous waste weighing a minimum of 100 kg requires such a permit.

Waste must be sorted, then taken to a specialist collector (FR), as applicable, for non-dangerous (including tyres), dangerous (including healthcare waste), animal waste (including cooking oils and fats), used oils (including brake and engine oils), etc.  If you use a registered carrier (FR), it is this company who decides which facility to take your waste to. Finally, if you decide to dispose of the waste yourself, you must comply with your environmental permit.

Evidence such as a collection contract or invoices may be requested for several years (5 years for dangerous waste (FR), 2 years for other waste). For extremely small quantities of household type waste, the rules are less strict.

The import or export of waste is the subject of very strict authorisations and conditions.  For more information, please contact Environment Brussels (environment and land department).

This is a European list classifying all waste by type and/or activity sector and indicating with an asterix the waste presumed to be dangerous in virtue, for example, of its irritant, corrosive, flammable, explosive, toxic, carcinogenic, or ecotoxic nature. Some examples of dangerous waste: neons, energy-saving bulbs, batteries, non-food aerosols, extinguishers, detergent or paint remnants, syringes, certain animal waste or electrical or electronic equipment, engine oils, asbestos.

For dangerous waste, the following obligations must be respected:

  • their combination with other materials, substances, or waste is prohibited (as is their dilution).  Note that certain combinations may be authorised.

  • their storage is considered to be a high-risk activity for the soil.  The consequence of this is that at the time of applying for an environmental permit, its renewal, its assignment, the sale of the land on which this storage occurred, a soil condition assessment is required unless an exemption has been given.

  • their packaging bears marking identifying the nature, composition, and quantity of the waste.

  • their transport and packaging must be such that any danger and any contamination is avoided.

  • during their transport, they must be accompanied by a traceability document and comply with ADR legislation.  You will find more information from the “Institut du Transport Routier” (ITLB).

For certain waste (e.g. batteries, animal or healthcare waste), the general rules described must be respected unless, for storage, packaging, or collection for example, a specific obligation is applicable.  These specific rules are described below.

The Environment Brussels website also provides, in french and dutch, information in the management of each type of waste. 

2. Packaging waste for which you are responsible

This is the case:

  • if you have packaged or had packaged products intended for the Belgian market in Belgium;

  • if you have imported or had imported, for the Belgian market, products packaged abroad, whether you unpack them or consume them yourself;

  • if you have unpacked or consumed products not falling under the two categories above, and if this has generated industrial packaging waste;

  • and, contrary to the foregoing, if you have produced or imported in Belgium for the purpose of placing on the Belgian market any service packaging (which is to say, any packaging used in the place where the customer buys/consumes and/or is offered a product or a service such as bags given out at the tills, bags for bread).

As a packaging manager, placing at least 300 kg of packaging on the market per year, you must either:

  • collect this packaging waste from your customers, guarantee the disposal thereof while respecting certain recycling quotas and informing the Interregional Packaging Commission (IRPC) annually of how you manage your packaging waste.

  • contact an approved organisation to fulfil, for a fee, your collection and information obligations: notably, for household packaging waste, Fost-Plus and, for industrial packaging waste, Val-I-Pac.

Those producing "significant" amounts of packaging must also submit a general prevention plan to the IRPC every 3 years.

If these examples do not apply to you, you can take your packaging waste to your supplier or dispose of it via the classic collection methods.

Please note that if your packaging contains remnants of dangerous products, this becomes dangerous waste.

3. Used batteries and accumulators

This specific dangerous waste must be disposed of in BEBAT boxes present in some shops. For large quantities, BEBAT offers free collections.

4. Waste electrical or electronic equipment (WEEE)

WEEE covers various types of waste such as PCs, televisions, fridges, domestic or professional electric ovens, lamp fixtures, drills, thermostats, coffee machines, energy-saving bulbs, neons, LEDs, etc. Please note that some of the above are classed as dangerous waste because they contain dangerous elements such as batteries, LCD screens, liquid refrigerants (CFC), mercury.

If they still work, consider giving them to an association active in the second-hand sector (FR) in the Brussels-Capital Region.

Otherwise, it is important to distinguish WEEE from:

  • domestic appliances which may be given to suppliers for free when purchasing a new appliance, be disposed of at a tip, or given to an approved WEEE manager in the Brussels-Capital Region.

  • professional appliances which may be given, often for a fee, to an an approved WEEE manager in the Brussels-Capital Region.

For more information, please see the Recupel website.

5. Used oils and PCBs

Used oils are industrial oils or mineral-based lubricants which have become unsuitable for the use for which they were initially intended (e.g. used engine oils, lubricating mineral oils).

The PCBs used are polychlorobiphenyls, polychloroterphenyls, or mixtures containing polychlorobiphenyls and/or polychloroterphenyls used or contained in end-of-life objects or devices (e.g. askarel contained in high-voltage cabins or transformers).

For this type of dangerous waste, it is prohibited to:

  • dispose of or allow used oils and PCBs to run into or onto the soil, in groundwater, the water table, sewers, pipes, collectors or other places where they will pollute the environment;

  • mix synthetic (brake) oils with mineral oils (engine, cutting).

6. Used tyres

Used tyres can be given to your garage for free when purchasing new tyres.  For larger quantities, the methods set out in point 1 must be used.

7. End-of-life vehicles (ELV)

A complete ELV can be given to a garage for free when purchasing a new vehicle of the same type, or taken to one of the centres in the list below:

This is dangerous waste.

8. Animal and fish waste, used cooking oils and fats

These are remains, carcasses, parts of animals or fish, products of animal origin not intended for human consumption.  Kitchen and catering waste containing the above will be treated as animal waste.  This waste falls into three categories:

  • animal carcasses and high-risk materials which could transmit BSE or mad cow disease.  For example, the vertebral columns of bovine aged over 12 months from at-risk countries.

  • waste which could present serious risks, other than BSE, for the health of persons or animals (category 2);

  • waste not presenting serious risks for the spread of diseases transmittable to persons or animals (category 3); This category includes used cooking fats and oils.

The following are excluded from animal waste: waste and sludge from water treatment installations in a 6mm grill is used to retain category 1 and 2 waste before any other water treatment.

Animal and fish waste, including that which is dangerous, must:

  • be stored in sealed, disinfectable containers with a lid, and labelled based on the category.  The containers must not be stored outdoors, but instead in a room intended for the storage of this type of waste, locked and inaccessible to the public.
    The 4 main labels are:
    • CAT 1 – For disposal only – Uitsluitend voor de verwijdering
    • CAT 2 - Unsuitable for animal consumption – Niet geschikt voor dierlijke consumptie
    • CAT 2 – Intended for the consumption of …- Voeder voor …
    • CAT 3 - Unsuitable for human consumption – Niet geschikt voor menselijke consumptie".
  • if they are in category 4, they are denatured (usually with methylene blue) and stored in yellow containers.

  • be removed at least once a week. They must be accompanied by a traceability slip completed by both parties.

  • be the subject of an annual disposal statement based on your invoices and a process diagram which explains how different types of waste are managed.

9. Waste from healthcare activities

There are two categories:

  • special waste is dangerous and must be stored in yellow packages meeting technical criteria. This includes sharp, cutting, or pricking objects (e.g. needles, scalpel blades), body parts, blood and other bodily fluids, waste not disinfected from microbiology laboratories having been in contact with micro-organism cultures and the cultures themselves, waste from a patient suffering from a disease listed in annex 1 of the legislation (FR) on this matter.

  • non-special waste must be packaged in grey bags meeting technical criteria and be incinerated. This notably includes waste resulting from healthcare activities not featuring in the category of special waste (e.g. plaster, empty medicine containers) or which may have undergone successful disinfection pre-treatment.

Notwithstanding the person who works alone or with the help of a secretary, producers of healthcare waste must appoint a manager for their waste who, among others, will prepare a prevention and management plan. The name of the manager and the plan must be submitted to Environment Brussels.

10. Dental amalgam waste

As a dentist, you are required to install an amalgam separator in your dental unit and to respect an average daily level of 0.3 mg of mercury per litre of filtered water daily.

Amalgam waste, including waste from your separator, is dangerous waste.

11. Construction and demolition waste (including asbestos)

The stone and sand portion of construction and demolition waste must be recycled either by the entrepreneur themselves or by a recycling facility included on one of the following lists:

For the management of asbestos and the resulting dangerous waste, please see the "asbestos" page on this site or visit the site of Environment Brussels.

For more information on other types of construction and demolition waste, please see the Bruxelles Environnement website.

12. Radioactive waste

The management of radioactive waste (medical devices, laboratory equipment, ionisation smoke detectors, etc.) is subject to federal management, and must be analysed on a case-by-case basis. The Belgian Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials can help you if you are required to dispose of this type of waste.

Updated 28/07/2017

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