Freeriders: the Fost Plus approach aimed at encouraging companies to fulfil their EPR


What is a freerider? It is a company that puts household packaging on the market but is not affiliated to Fost Plus and does not contribute towards financing the recycling of its packaging. The ultimate aim is for the collection, sorting and recycling costs to be shared fairly among all those responsible for packaging.

Legal obligation for companies and the role of Fost Plus

This is not in any way a witch hunt. It is simply a matter of ensuring compliance with the legal obligation imposed on every company that puts household packaging on the market. This Extended Producer Responsibility comprises three aspects:

  • Take-back obligation. Every year, companies have to achieve a set recycling percentage for the packaging(materials) that they put on the market.
  • Information obligation. Companies have to inform the Interregional Packaging Commission (IRPC) of the nature of their packaging and the recycling percentages that they have achieved.
  • Three-year prevention plan. Companies have to draw up a prevention plan setting out the measures that they are taking to reduce their quantity of packaging and the goals they aim to reach. This obligation applies to companies that put at least 300 tonnes of single-use packaging on the market annually and for companies that package products or have products packaged in Belgium with at least 100 tonnes of single-use packaging per year.

Each company can report this to the authorities itself and put in place its own system to collect and recycle its packaging. In practice, however, this is rarely feasible. The easiest way for companies to meet these legal obligations is to join  a collective take-back system such as Fost Plus.
By becoming a member of Fost Plus and paying an annual fee calculated on the basis of the quantity and type of packaging put on the market, companies enter an ecosystem that has been running smoothly for over 25 years and that takes charge of collecting, sorting and recycling household packaging.

The Fost Plus approach

Within Fost Plus, a team focuses on identifying potential members who could join the ranks.
This team undertakes cross-screening using information from other lists, of federations or organisations, for example. The federations also communicate regularly about the legal obligations on their websites or through their newsletters so as to encourage companies to join Fost Plus.
These companies will receive e-mails explaining their legal obligations, why it is important to become affiliated and how to join. If no response is received, a letter is then sent, and telephone follow-up may also be arranged.
A digital campaign has been in place since 2021 and since 2022 this has been extended on the social networks.
 And with results: in 2021, 437 companies were identified and contacted.

Expansion of the Extended Producer Responsibility in 2023…it’s just around the corner!

It should be remembered that as of January 2023, household packaging producers will be obliged by law to take responsibility for the fight against litter. From then on, the Extended Producer Responsibility will be expanded to include bearing the cost of collecting rubbish that ends up as litter or in public bins, as well as the cost of communication and awareness campaigns aimed at the general public.
Fost Plus is committed to fulfilling its societal role and relies on the collaboration of companies so that more of them do likewise.
Fost Plus therefore does its utmost to inform, raise awareness and encourage membership so as to create an ecosystem that is as effective as possible in terms of the household packaging circular economy.

Being part of Fost Plus, like almost 5,000 other companies, means joining a system that ranks among the best in Europe. About 90% of the companies placing packaging on the Belgian market are members of Fost Plus. This approach serves to further close the gap. In 2021, we recycled around 722,000 tonnes of household packaging, which equates to a recycling percentage of 89.8%.