Source sorting of waste: what to know

Verified 19 January 2024 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Paper, metals, plastic, glass, wood, bio-waste... Your company is certainly concerned by the obligation to sorting at source of such waste. We present your obligations and the penalties provided for.

Your company is affected by this obligation to sort at source whether it produces or holds waste, i.e. if your activity generates waste, or if your staff throws waste.

Please note

Whatever your activity, your company is most certainly subject to this obligation.

If your company is concerned, you are obliged to arrange for the sorting of your waste ‘at source’, i.e. when it is discarded.

Waste paper, metals, plastics, glass, wood and bio-waste

Several categories of waste are subject to the sorting obligation at source:

  • The paper
  • The metals
  • The plastics
  • The glass
  • The timber
  • The bio-waste, and all waste consisting of more than 50% bio-waste
  • The edible oils - for any company producing or holding at least 60 liters per year. Below this threshold, edible oils must be sorted together with bio-waste.

At 1er January 2025, textile waste will also be affected.


Biowaste generally has to be sorted without its packaging.

However, some packaging compostable, methanizable and biodegradable may be collected together with bio-waste. Ask your suppliers if their products are affected.

Exemption from sorting for hazardous waste

Example :

Toxic bio-waste, plastics containing PCBs.

The hazardous waste categories of waste subject to sorting obligations at source should not be sorted at source. These wastes are subject to specific regulations, which you must comply with.

Exemption from sorting at source of papers

On each of your settlements with a maximum of 20 people that produce waste office paper (administrative employees, executives, sales representatives, engineers, technicians, etc.), you are exempt from the obligation to sort at source papers. You are not exempt if a location has a total of more than 20 individuals, including some who are part of other companies.

The persons considered to be producing office papers with regard to the exemption from sorting at source of papers are those which occupy functions corresponding to the following socio-professional categories:

  • Craftsmen
  • Merchants and related parties
  • Heads of company with 10 or more employees
  • Professions
  • Professors, scientific professions
  • Information, Arts and Entertainment Professions
  • Company administrative and commercial frameworks
  • Engineers and technical company executives
  • School teachers, teachers and the like
  • Intermediate administrative and commercial professions of companies
  • Technicians
  • Surveillance agents
  • Company administrative employees
Other exemptions from sorting at source

There are 3 other exemptions to source sorting of waste paper, metals, plastic, glass, wood and bio-waste:

  • For waste recovered by your company
  • For waste of plant pruning or pruning energy-recovered
  • For certain hazardous bio-waste for the environment or human health in the context of individual derogations

Construction and demolition waste

Construction and demolition waste must also be sorted at source:

  • The timber
  • The mineral fractions
  • The metal
  • The glass
  • The plastic
  • The plaster

You are not subject to the obligation to separate construction and demolition waste in any of the following cases:

  • He cannot assign, on site, an area of at least 40 m² for the storage of waste.
  • The total volume of waste generated over the entire duration of the work, regardless of the waste, is less than 10 m3.

It is not necessary to make a declaration to benefit from this exemption.

However, in order to carry out potential checks, it is essential to retain all the relevant elements justifying the absence of the establishment of sorting at source of construction and demolition waste.


Of specific provisions exist for certain other categories of waste, including waste from sectors subject to extended producer responsibility, the hazardous waste and chemicals. Legal obligations relating to their management must be respected.

General obligations

Your company must collect waste from the source in separate containers. Concretely, each waste must be collected with waste of the same category, without being mixed with other categories of waste.

Your company must therefore put in place separate waste collection devices :

  • Adapted the various activities carried out in your establishments
  • Accessible to your staff, in order to enable it to sort waste at source, including waste of everyday products that staff generate (food, packaging, tissues, paper, etc.)

Additional obligation for certain institutions receiving from the public

If you operate a establishment receiving from the public producing more than 1 100 liters of waste per weekHowever, regardless of the waste, you must also organize separate collection of the waste from the public received in your establishment. You must make available to the public separate collection devicesat least of the following two categories:

  • Household packaging waste made of plastic, steel, aluminum, paper or paperboard and waste paper and graphic papers, on the one hand
  • Bio-waste, on the other hand

Additional obligation for certain retail establishments

If you operate a retail establishment of more than 2 500 m2 offering food and consumer products on a self-service basis, you must settle, at the exit of the boxes, a packaging waste take-up point from products purchased in your establishment.

In the absence of the introduction of sorting at source, the payment of the fine for contraventions of section 4e class may be required. Its amount is €135 (natural person) or 675 (legal person). This amount may be higher if the fine is paid late (increased fine) or if the offense is repeated.

One criminal sanction is also provided for the most serious infringements. It's from 4 years imprisonment and €150,000 a fine (natural person), or €750,000fine (legal person).


By decision of your mayor, the president of your ECPI, or the representative of the State (the prefect), your company subject to the sorting obligations at source may be obliged to carry out an audit by an independent third party. It must be completed within 2 months. Its purpose is to attest to the fulfillment of your obligations.

The audit report must be submitted within 15 days the competent authority or the representative of the State.

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