Businesses produce 15.7 million tonnes of waste
In 2016, Flemish businesses produced 15.7 million tonnes of primary industrial waste. That is almost 5 times more than the collected amount of household waste. The biggest streams were construction and demolition waste (21%), sludge from water treatment (15%), contaminated soil (11%) and waste of vegetable or animal origin (11%). The first 3 streams are atypical in the sense that they are partly the consequence of the environmental policy. After all, rebuilding is necessary in order to achieve a more material- and energy-efficient building stock, and the environment policy also encourages an increased level of connection to the sewers and rigorous soil decontamination. This inevitably results in a lot of waste. Some of this waste does, however, go to material recovery. Rocky construction and demolition waste is almost completely recycled, possibly after some form of pre-treatment.
The amount of primary industrial waste excluding construction and demolition waste, sludge from water treatment and contaminated soil showed a decreasing trend between 2004 and 2009 (-16%) but has since remained fairly stable. In 2016 it amounted to 8.2 million tonnes. The biggest fractions in this were waste of vegetable or animal origin (21%), non-selectively collected industrial waste or industrial residual waste (13%) and paper and cardboard waste, excluding packaging material (10%).
Three quarters of primary industrial waste and secondary raw materials get a second life
n 2016, businesses, excluding the waste-processing sector, produced 15.7 million tonnes of waste and 4.3 million tonnes of secondary raw materials. 36% of this went directly to some form of material recovery: reuse, use as secondary raw material, recycling or composting. 4% went directly to incineration, 2% was directly dumped in landfills. The remaining 58% was sorted or otherwise pre-treated before being further processed.
After a possible additional step of sorting or another form of pre-treatment, a rough estimate of 77% of the primary industrial waste and secondary raw materials went to material recovery. That is approximately the same as in 2012 and 2014. The sharp increase in 2012 was partly due to secondary raw materials which were previously not reported (or underreported) and materials that are better monitored, such as compost.
Primary industrial waste: the waste produced by businesses, excluding waste from the waste-processing sector. This is waste that is generated at the premises of the original producer and not during a later processing of the waste.
Secondary raw materials: raw materials that are not directly derived from nature, for example by-products of production processes or recycled materials.