Composting in flanders: the vlaco experience
In Belgium, waste policy mainly belongs to the responsibility of the regional authorities. Therefore, apart from some European regulations, Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels have their own laws, rules and strategies with respect to waste management. These different situations are inevitably related to the political, socio-economic and natural conditions of these regions.
In execution of the Waste Decree of the Flemish Government (02.07.1981), OVAM (The Flemish Public Waste Office) has been erected in 1981. This Waste Decree, as it has been updated several times, also outlines the authorities of OVAM. Some of these responsibilities are summarised underneath:
- The gathering of information about waste production and waste disposal routes (both municipal and industrial waste)
- The stimulation of environmentally friendly, cost-effective waste treatment/disposal methods
- The drawing up of waste plans, such as the Biowaste and Vegetational waste Execution Plan (see further)
- The administrative follow-up and execution of issues related to the Flemish waste policy
In answer to the evolution in waste production/collection data, the general waste policy has evolved considerably since the erection of OVAM in 1981. The framework for a new policy of prevention and recycling was formed by The Waste Productsplan 1991-1995. At this moment, Flanders waste policy is based on the so-called “ladder of Lansink”. According to this principle, waste prevention is preferred, followed by recuperation and recycling in order to minimise waste disposal quantities. Waste that still has to be disposed off should first be incinerated with energy-recuperation, then incineration without energy-recuperation and only if no other possibility remains, the waste may be landfilled.
Since about half of the MSW consists of organic waste, the strategy with respect to this fraction is highly important for the overall result of the waste policy and to meet the reduction goals for waste disposal. In accordance to the above-mentioned principle, a policy with 3 highlights has been worked out for the organic fraction of the municipal solid waste:
1. First, waste prevention, i.e. stimulation of home composting
2. Second, maximising vegetation waste composting.
3. Third, maximising biowaste composting.
To accompany this process and to try manipulating, i.e. reducing, the waste stream, several so-called execution plans have been written. The Biowaste and Vegetational waste Master plan (1991), the Biowaste and Vegetational waste Execution plan (for the 1995-1997 period) and the Municipal Solid Waste Execution plan (for the 1997-2001 32 Proceedings ORBIT 99 period) have been written so far. At this moment the Execution plan for organic biological waste has been prepared and takes also the industrial organic waste in consideration.
Also the creation of VLACO (Flemish Organisation for the promotion of bio- and vegetation compost) in January 1992 (see further) relies on these plans.