What do we see?
The graph below shows the evolution of the quantity of primary industrial waste in Flanders. We look mainly at the figures excluding the waste streams from construction, wastewater treatment (sludge) and contaminated soil: thus we see mainly process-related waste. In the period 2007-2011, there is a decrease in this waste associated with the economic crisis at the time. After that, there is a slight increase year after year until until 2020. In that year, we see a clear decline (also visible in the total amount of primary commercial waste) due to the temporary and partial closure of the economy and to compulsory teleworking. Most of this decline can be explained by a reduction in the amount of production waste due to this closure. Another part of it is due to a shift from an amount of business waste similar to household waste (e.g. business residual waste) to household waste, due to the many people who were obliged to work from home.
What’s the aim?
In the transition to a circular economy, it is important to reduce the production of primary industrial waste (excluding construction and demolition waste, wastewater treatment sludge and contaminated soil). Lower production can mean more materials and products are given a second life, more material-efficient production, longer product lifetimes and/or high-quality applications for discarded materials.
What does this indicator measure?
Primary industrial waste is the set of wastes generated by the original waste producer. Secondary industrial waste is waste generated by companies that process waste (the waste processors). Primary industrial waste is often broken down by sector, type of waste, processing method and company size. Contaminated soil, water treatment sludge and construction and demolition waste are often not included because the Flemish environmental policy does not aim to reduce these three streams. Moreover, these wastes are released very irregularly, often causing fluctuations between years that mean little in reality.
OVAM estimates the production of primary industrial waste using an extrapolation based on data from a sample of companies. The selected companies report their waste through the Integral Environmental Annual Report (Integraal Milieujaarverslag, IMJV). This sample is optimised for extrapolations based on sector and dimension.