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A beginner's guide to waste disposal in Brussels
This guide is valid for Brussels. Local authorities can provide further advice.
Paper and card goes in the yellow bag and must be clean and dry; anything from newspapers and phone directories to biscuit packaging and shoe boxes. Alternatively, fill cardboard boxes with paper or tie bundles of paper with string.
The blue bag is for various recyclable materials: rigid plastic, drinks cartons, aluminium cans, Tetra Pak-style cartons, water, shampoo and cleaning fluid containers. Margarine and yoghurt pots, salad containers and cake and biscuit packaging cannot currently go in here but regulations are slowly changing.
These bags are collected once a week. See arp-gan.be to find out what days rubbish is collected in your street. There are fines for households who put their rubbish out too early or on the wrong day.
The green bag is for garden waste; the collection is weekly all year round. Certain communes also operate a weekly orange bag collection, for food scraps and other organic waste (no egg shells or bones). Free plastic bins are available from your town hall to prevent cats, birds and foxes from tearing open the bags on the street.
The white bag is for most nonrecyclable household waste (from nappies to plastic biscuit wrappers and food-soiled paper) and is collected twice a week. Take glass jars or bottles to a bottle bank on the streets. Many beer, wine and water bottles have a deposit levied at purchase; return them for 10 or 20 cents per item.
Many charitable organisations welcome donated objects. For truly defunct or broken household objects – mattresses, furniture, carpets and electrical goods, but not window frames, sinks or building rubble – some authorities offer a free collection.
Other large objects can be taken to the container park; there are two in Brussels, in Laeken and Forest. Wood, metal, garden waste, old electrical goods and other junk are free to dump; building waste costs €1.20 per 60-litre bag. Pharmacies will take out-of-date or superfluous medicines.