Source: E-PRTR, DG Statistics
Waste management in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry is based on the following hierarchy: prevention, re-use and recycling, and finally incineration with energy recovery. Unavoidable waste must be treated optimally to limit its environmental impact as much as possible. A distinction is made between hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
In 2019, the Belgian chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry accounted for only 4% (689 kilotonnes) of all Belgian industrial waste. This good result has been achieved partly thanks to cluster collaboration, with the waste- or side-streams of one company serving as raw materials for another thus avoiding waste generation. This kind of industrial symbiosis is typical of the sector.
Substantial efforts are being made in the field of material and energy recovery resulting in some two-thirds (68%) of all waste generated by the sector being recovered in 2019, either as materials or as energy. The positive trend towards optimal use of waste is clear: in 2001, the recovery rate was just 43%.
In 2019, about 41% of the waste generated by the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry was hazardous. Most of this was treated in Belgium and 75% was recovered, with the remainder processed under safe and strict conditions.