Litter is a complex problem and there are no simple solutions. Fost Plus aims at sustainable changes in behavior, taking an integrated approach as the starting point.
Littering is a tenacious phenomenon, of which our society is becoming less and less accepting. All stakeholders, the government, citizens and manufacturers, are demanding cleaner public spaces. However, this is an extremely complex phenomenon, involving many different factors. It ranges from carelessly dropped cigarette butts, plastic bags and various packaging items - genuine litter - to the intentional dumping of bin bags full of household waste or covert disposal of construction waste and other refuse.
Fost Plus is convinced that only a fundamental, sustainable change in behavior can improve the cleanliness of our public spaces. This requires much more than just raising awareness or a few extra waste bins. A strong and consistent government enforcement policy is an equally crucial factor, as well as dealing with the issues that cause litter, such as vacant buildings or local decline. The active participation of citizens in their own streets, neighbourhoods or municipalities can also make a big difference.
A change of mindset can only result from persistent long-term action. That is why the business community wants everyone to work together for greater cleanliness in our public spaces. It is not that the private sector is looking to take the government’s place in this effort. They want to work with government to achieve better results. Some remarkable initiatives are already ongoing on both sides of the language border, including Mooimakers in Flanders and Be Wapp in Wallonia. These initiatives are gradually beginning to demonstrate their effectiveness. It is now important to expand these initiatives to make a real difference.
Early in 2016, Fost Plus, with support from sector organisations Fevia and Comeos, concluded agreements with Flanders and Wallonia to work together in the fight against litter. The basis of these agreements was the action plan drawn up by Fost Plus in 2015 proposing a very concrete objective. By 2022, litter in our country must decrease by 20%.
The plan is ambitious, and extensive financial resources have been made available to achieve its objectives. Fost Plus will reserve EUR 17 million annually for the next seven years. This willingness to invest consistently demonstrates the industry’s conviction that Belgium, already a leader in recycling, can also lead with cleaner public spaces.