This page presents the key elements of the Region's circular economy legislation. All environmental legislation is available on the Walloon Environment Portal.
Many actions are being launched in regards to circular economy at the European level. We do not present these initiatives on this site, but you can find them on the website of the European Commission. There is also a range of legislation at the federal level that frames and supports the circular economy, which is not presented on this page either, as it does not fall within regional competence.
Legislation on packaging waste, adopted in the form of a cooperation agreement between the three regions, provides the obligation to take back packaging waste for the whole of Belgium, and sets targets and obligations for the prevention, selective collection and recycling of household and industrial packaging waste. On this basis, two eco-organisations set up by producers have been approved to implement the operational measures needed to achieve these objectives. Circularity issues are integrated into approval decisions.
With a comprehensive approach and an aim to reduce pollution, legislation in Wallonia regarding waste lays down measures to protect the environment and human health from all harmful influences created by waste by preventing or reducing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste, and by reducing the overall impacts of resource use and improving the efficiency of such use. The decree also regulates waste transfers.
Waste is defined as "any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard", whether the substance is destined for disposal or recycling. This waste status, defined at the European level, entails a series of obligations, market restrictions and, sometimes, a negative image.
A first step towards facilitating and legally authorising the use of certain types of waste was taken with the Decree of 14 June 2001, favouring the recovery of certain types of waste, which sets out the conditions for the use of such waste, subject to prior registration.
A new step in circularity was taken in 2019, when, on 28 February 2019, the Walloon Government adopted two decrees relating respectively to by-product status and end-of-waste status (WG of 29 February 2019 implementing the procedure for end-of-waste status (...): Mon.b., 05.04.2019; AGW of 29 February 2019 (...) concerning the recognition of by-products: Mon.b, 16.04.2019). These decrees lay down the conditions and procedures for obtaining recognition of these two statuses, for materials and objects not defined at the European level. By-product status implies that the substance or object has never passed through the waste stage, as opposed, by definition, to end-of-waste status.
|Substance or object resulting from a production process whose primary purpose is not to produce it.||Substance or object that has undergone a valorisation or recycling operation.|
In terms of waste prevention, the decree sets out the general principle of waste hierarchy: 1) prevention; 2) preparation for re-use; 3) recycling; 4) other forms of recovery, particularly energy recovery; 5) disposal. However, certain specific waste streams may depart from the aforementioned hierarchy where this is justified by considerations based on life cycle, in regards to the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste.
The principles of several bans - single-use plastic bags, advertising and free publications wrapped in plastic film, single-use plastic utensils used in establishments open to the public - are also introduced in the decree, in order to encourage re-usable or more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
With regard to re-use, the decree sets out the framework for approval and subsidising of social economy players active in the domains of re-use and preparation for re-use.
To support eco-design, prevention and the recovery of various waste streams, the decree on waste sets out the framework for extended producer responsibility. Depending on the waste stream, environmental targets for prevention, selective collection, re-use, recycling or recovery, and reporting are set by the government and apply to professional producers and importers of products, and to all links in the value chain.
Finally, following an administrative simplification measure adopted in 2018, operators already registered in another region of the country for the transportation of non-hazardous waste can apply for registration in Wallonia by notifying their existing registration. They are also subject to Wallonia's existing de-listing obligations and rules.
The Walloon Waste Plan takes stock of the existing situation, and sets strategic and operational guidelines to be translated into legislation and economic instruments. It is a mediate source of legality: unless one piece of legislation explicitly refers to it, it does not create any obligation for private players.
The third waste plan, called the "Walloon Waste-Resource Plan", abbreviated as PWD-R (Plan Wallon des Déchets-Ressources), was adopted by the Walloon Government on 22 March 2018. It is firmly focused on the circular economy, and many of its measures are in line with the circular economy package adopted by the European Commission.
The PWD-R is divided into six sections:
- Section 1 sets out the overarching strategic framework, detailing cross-functional objectives.
- Section 2 constitutes the programme for the prevention and re-use of waste. It covers both industrial waste and household waste.
- Section 3 pertains to the management of household waste.
- Section 4 concerns the management of industrial waste.
- Section 5 constitutes the plan for public cleanliness and the fight against litter and illegal dumping.
- Section 6 deals with the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the aforementioned provisions of the plan.
More than three-quarters of the actions relate to six waste streams:
- biodegradable organic waste;
- packaging waste, particularly plastic packaging;
- hazardous waste (batteries and accumulators, pesticides, asbestos, etc.);
- waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE);
- paper and cardboard;
- construction and demolition waste.
In line with the circular economy theme, the PWD-R includes targets for eco-design, repair and re-use, the economy of functionality, increased sorting and selective collection of waste, and recycling. Instruments range from measures to raise awareness to regulation, via sectoral agreements - with the retail sector, for example - the promotion of public-private partnerships, the development of a materials exchange, support for synergies between companies and new channels for post-consumer materials, and the exemplary role of public authorities. Find out more.
Excess soil from construction sites, also considered as waste, and soil from plant production, generated from the cleaning of field vegetables, are governed by new traceability and quality control rules. The system introduced by the Walloon Government's decree of 5 July 2018 on the management and traceability of excavated soil aims to improve compatibility between land use and soil conditions, and offers tools for recycling polluted land, as well as soil from excavation work, thereby promoting the circularity of soil and the legal certainty of excavation/backfill operations in the context of construction sites.