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OVAM | Municipalities in Flanders clean up 17,739 tonnes of litter annually – total amounts rise up to 20,426 tonnes

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ACR+ member OVAM carried out a large-scale survey in 2016-2017 among all Flemish cities and municipalities. After undergoing a comprehensive peer review in 2017, this study offers a complete and reliable estimate of the litter problem so far. Based on an activity-based costing model, it estimated that the total amount of litter disposed of in 2015 by local authorities in Flanders adds up to 17,739 tonnes. The policy costs associated with public cleanliness in the broad sense (including emptying public bins, awareness-raising, etc.) amount to 155 million euro per year, of which an estimated 109 million euro is directly attributable to the machine and manual removal of litter and to emptying street bins. These estimates relate to 2015 and therefore date from before the start of the reinforced litter policy in 2016.

All Flemish cities and municipalities were surveyed and 118 local authorities answered. This data was also supplemented with the data from other “litter cleaners”: provinces, inter-municipal organisations, Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer (regional road and traffic agency), De Lijn (regional public transport company), De Vlaamse Waterweg (the Flemish waterway agency), ... To make the quality and reliability of the data as strong as possible, two additional measures were introduced: the study received a peer review by an independent third party and a sensitivity analysis was carried out on the data from authorities that could provide full data regarding quantities and costs. (About half of the local authorities who responded have full figures.)

The study estimates a total of 20,426 tonnes of litter for 2015, or 3.19 kg per inhabitant. Local authorities account for 17,739 tonnes of cleared litter, or 2.77 kg per inhabitant. The remaining 2,687 tonnes were managed by other litter cleaners. The best available estimate for the amount of waste that was correctly deposited in street bins was 7,001 tonnes in 2015. The best available estimate for the total policy costs for local authorities in 2015 amounted to 155,422,048 euro or 24.2 euro per inhabitant, including the costs of emptying street rubbish bins. For the other parties mentioned, this amounted to 8,777,555 euro. In total, this adds up to 164,199,603 euro, or 25.6 euro per inhabitant. The study estimates the direct policy costs associated with litter (mechanical and manual sweeping, emptying street bins, transport, and processing) at 109 million euro, the remaining 46 million euros are indirect costs: awareness raising, deployment of volunteers, management and policy, clean-up activities, ... These estimates relate to 2015 and date from before the start of the reinforced Flemish litter policy in 2016.

Sources: www.ovam.be