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The voluntary energy efficiency agreements signed by companies in Flanders and Wallonia envisage a continuous process of energy efficiency improvements. Following the success of the first generation of voluntary agreements (2003-2014) in improving energy efficiency while taking account of the industrial and economic reality, Belgium’s regional governments decided to continue with a second generation of accords (2014-2020), which were extended to include CO2 and energy efficiency improvements across the entire value chain of a company. Following the success of this measure, the second generation of branch agreements was then extended in Flanders till the end of 2022 and until the end of 2023 in Wallonia.

Participants in these agreements commit themselves to work on energy efficient manufacturing and CO2 reduction by implementing all feasible and affordable measures listed in energy plans that have to be drawn up every four years on the basis of a bottom-up, in-depth energy audit. Implementation of the measures and their impact are monitored annually. In Flanders, the agreements also require companies to implement an energy management system to increase awareness of energy efficiency throughout the company. In Wallonia, entities involved in these agreements are required to carry out carbon footprint analyses of their activities referred to as “CO2 mapping”.

As energy efficiency is a core priority for the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector, many companies in the sector have signed up to these agreements. The chemicals industry accounts for 37% and 24% respectively of the total energy consumption covered by the voluntary agreements in Flanders and Wallonia. These voluntary energy efficiency agreements cover about 90% of the sector’s energy use.