A brief guide to waste in Brussels

What goes in what bag? How do collections work?

Brussels uses colour-coded bags to sort its rubbish, which you can buy in supermarkets and corner shops. Rubbish collection days vary depending on where you live, so check before you put your rubbish on the street for collection: putting it out at the wrong time can result in a fine.

Read below to find out exactly what you need to be putting where.

Blue bag

When it comes to PMD – or plastic, metal and drink – the Belgian rule seems to be ‘if in doubt, throw it out rather than in the blue bag’. In other words, only plastic bottles, drink cartons, aluminium and tin cans can go in the blue bag. That includes all soda and tin cans, plus pressured and spray cans, like whipped cream and deodorant. You can also throw in aluminium pie trays and metal lids from glass jars and bottles. As a guide, when the top is smaller than the bottom, you should recycle. All recyclables have to be empty, but you don’t have to rinse them.

Yellow bag

Most paper, including newspaper, post, magazines, books and cardboard boxes (broken down) go here. Your paper and cardboard items must be clean and dry, and any item that doesn’t fit into the yellow bag must be folded and firmly tied. Newspapers and magazines can also be piled separately, but then they also must be tied.

Green bag

While mostly applying to those with a garden who want to do away with their dead leaves, grass cuttings, weeds, shrub trimmings and branches, the green bag also applies to apartment-dwellers with withered flowers or plants and this also involves Christmas trees. Garden waste goes to the Brussels compost centre, so non-compostable garden waste does not go into the bag. Bruxelles Compost, the receiver of these green bags, also gives away compost to use in your gardens.


Only bottles and jars can be recycled, and you need to separate the clear from the coloured. So no mirrors, broken drinking glasses, light bulbs, ceramics or any other kind of glass – this is bulky waste. Collect the appropriate glass items in a plastic tub or bag that you can reuse week after week. Then these items need to be dropped off at one of the many bottle banks you’ll find in each town or city or at a container park.

White bag

While this bag is, for the most part, the catch-all bag for everything that is not sorted according to the instructions above, there are still some waste items that are not white-worthy:

Hazardous waste (aerosols, light bulbs, oils/fats and batteries) must be dropped off at a Proxy Chimik site or a container park. Building waste (includes rubble, scrap, wood and even Styrofoam) and large volume waste (waste that’s too large to fit in a white bag) usually become ‘bulky household waste’. These items need to be disposed of at a container park, or you can call and organise a pick-up (you’re entitled to one pick-up of 3m3 bulk a year, so call with caution).


Categories:   Housing


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