Catering and food waste sorting obligation: here’s how to comply with the legislation

As a business or company, you are obliged to sort various waste streams. If you don’t, you are violating environmental legislation. Starting on 1 January 2024, two more waste streams will be added in Flanders and Wallonia: catering and food waste, and packaged food. What does the new legislation entail and how do you ensure a smooth transition? 

Some companies have already been subject to the sorting obligation for catering and food waste and packaged food since 2021. For example, consider enterprises serving hot meals at least once a week and supermarkets with a sales area larger than 400m2. The legislation will come into force for all Flemish and Walloon companies as from 2024.

Sorting obligation for Brussels businesses

Every business in the Brussels-Capital Region has already been subject to the sorting obligation for catering and food waste and packaged food since 1 May 2023.

What is catering waste and what isn’t?

These waste streams belong in the container for catering and food waste (and therefore not residual waste):

  • peelings, scraps, and surpluses of fruit and vegetables;
  • boiled, fried, etc. food scraps;
  • vegetable, meat, and fish scraps collected with a sieve;
  • coffee grounds;
  • bread (scraps);
  • eggshells;
  • paper towels and paper and cardboard food packaging contaminated by food waste;
  • paper napkins;
  • wilted cut flowers;
  • scraps of meat and fish (such as fat);
  • unpackaged foodstuffs.

These waste streams do not belong in the container for catering and food waste:

  • liquids (e.g. soup, milk, coffee, etc.);
  • sauces, fats, and oils (except dishes containing a small portion of sauce);
  • tea bags and coffee pods;
  • wood treated with paint, varnish, impregnating agent, etc.;
  • bones and animal (slaughter) waste*;
  • animal cadavers*;
  • shells of mussels, oysters, etc.;
  • cat litter and bird cage sand;
  • faeces from large pets or in large quantities;
  • dust from the vacuum cleaner;
  • disposable nappies and other hygiene waste;
  • dirt and sand;
  • cork;
  • ash residue and charcoal;
  • plastic, glass, and metals;
  • coarse prunings and thick branches;
  • cigarette butts;
  • packaged foodstuffs*.

* There are separate collection rounds for these flows. For more info, contact your collector.

How can you be well prepared for the new legislation?

The new measure will require quite a bit of preparation for many organisations.

These tips will ensure a smooth transition: 

  • Request a suitable drop-off or roll-off container from your collector in which to collect the catering waste. 
  • Set up a collection scheme that matches the amount of catering waste your organisation produces. 
  • Provide enough waste bins and put them in various places throughout your organisation. You can purchase or request the bins from the municipality or collector. 
  • Teach employees the proper sorting principles. That way, everyone can do their bit. 

You can find more information about the how and why of the sorting obligation on the OVAM website.

Do you still have questions about the company sorting obligation? Need help organising your waste streams in the best possible way?

Contact our environmental experts using the form below. They will get back to you as soon as possible.