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“Which sustainable future for plastic?” is a joint initiative initiated by 4 partners:

IDEA – Intermunicipality structure in charge of economic development
Sustainable Economy Association – Non-profit organization promoting innovation in sustainable business models
Materia Nova – Research and development center
Region Wallonne – Public service of Wallonia


The conference is aiming at stimulating debates and knowledge sharing in order to identify initiatives to rethink the way Plastic is produced, used and discarded.

The idea was launched in May 2018 by the 3 partners. Since then, a couple of private and public partners joined their force to support this open initiative.

You are plastic industry, retail sector, waste industry, startups, University, Public administration and government, civil society... and wish to register and/or support us? Contact us via….


For almost 60 years, IDEA has been promoting the Heart of Hainaut region, a competitive, vibrant, cohesive area with more than 530,000 inhabitants, located in the southwest of Belgium, near Brussels, the capital of Europe. Thanks to its reputation and its qualities, the Heart of Hainaut has attracted major international groups interested in expanding their businesses there.

The Heart of Hainaut has many advantages which make it a very special place to locate a business:

• its central geographical position in the heart of Europe, at the focal point of great decision-making cities – Brussels, Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Munich;

• its outstanding accessibility, lying at the crossroads of a dense network of European motorways, wide-gauge waterways, major rail Eurocorridors, and at the centre of a network of international and European airports;

• its training and research capacity, based on many universities (UMons & UCL Mons) and research centres of world renown;

• its entrepreneurial dynamism, developed by a large network of private and public bodies with a care for innovation and sustainable development;

• the warmth and friendliness of the people of this pleasant, multicultural area with its wealth of culture and folklore.

The Heart of Hainaut is an open and welcoming territory, conducive to the economic development of all companies that settle there and has made entrepreneurial success a leitmotif.

IDEA gives added value to the “Heart of Hainaut, Energy center” territory. Created in 1956 on the initiative of the municipalities, IDEA is the territory development agency of the Mons-Borinage-Centre region, the Heart of Hainaut. It is a multisectorial intercommunity active in fields of general interest activity such as:

• the economic infrastructures and the advisory services to companies;

• the urbanistic studies and the town and land planning;

• the water sector (production/distribution, purification, water-table control) ;

• the technical expertises for the municipalities;

• the sustainable energies (geothermal energy, biomass, windenergy, etc.);

• etc.

IDEA has around fifty business parks, offering a range of sites of differing plot sizes and opportunities for specific sectors of industry. some business parks are equipped with industrial start-up premises, business incubators and early-stage incubators. IDEA is the coordinator of the « Heart of Hainaut, Energy center » territory project.

For further information :

Coeur du Hainaut



SEA -Sustainable Economy Association- is a non-profit organization active to accelerate the economic transition towards sustainable business models :

• by offering inspiring success-stories and best practices of sustainable entrepreneurship.

• by providing tools and techniques to start successfully the sustainable transformation of a company.

• by providing a platform where sustainable business projects and opportunities can be discussed and initiated (innovation in offering and business process, creation of new markets, cost savings,...).

The members of SEA are sustainable entrepreneurs, managers or experts in various domains. They are active in the business in Belgium and in Europe. Government and private companies provide their support to the association in the framework of its mission and activities.

SEA is active by organizing or collaborating to actions like:

• Thematic lectures and workshops

• Seminars endorsed by emblematic personalities and key business organizations highlighting striking cases in sustainable economy.

• Training sessions

• Network of eco-entrepreneurs

For further information :


Materia Nova

Materia Nova is a research and development center based on advanced and disruptive technologies in the field of sustainable materials, multifunctional surfaces, materials for energy and biotechnology.
Materia Nova offers partnership with small, medium or large companies for research and/or development projects and facilitates the technological transfer from the academic to the industrial world. This transfer helps companies to test in a real environment the solutions brought by the research, from lab to pilot scale, before industrialization.

Today, this technological transfer is made possible by, among others, the subsidiaries of Materia Nova: IONICS and NANO4, specialized in surface treatments and nanomaterials, respectively.

Materia Nova gives also technical assistance to companies such as in upscaling, feasibility testing, life cycle assessment, materials characterization, market research, state of the art, technology watch and targeted consulting.

Today, Materia Nova is ...

• A team of 90 employees, among which 80 scientific experts who are working closely with more than three hundred external specialists from research centers and universities in Belgium and abroad

• A flexible and agile organization able to take up real challenges

• A unique place in the heart of Europe

• A center collaborating with partners among the biggest national and international industrial companies and research units

For further information :

Materia Nova


La Région Wallonne is a public service and is one of the 3 regions that make up Belgium

For further information :

Région Wallonne


Plastic production has been growing for several years

Plastic material is everywhere, under several forms and advantages of plastic are numerous. Plastic mass production and diffusion started in the 50s. Since then, plastic consumption knew a sharp and endless growth.


Global plastic consumption. Source: PlasticEurope Market Research Group 2016

Between 2003 and 2016

A volume similar to the total production in the period between 1950 and 2003, has been brought to market. At first, a small amount of plastic was produced, so plastic waste was easily manageable. But now, it is more complex.

On a global scale, among plastic waste collected since 1980 (6,3 billion), 9% is recycled, 12% is valorized in energy and the rest is in landfilling.


Source: Ellen Macarthur Foundation


Global flow of plastic packaging material

The graph below represents a comprehensive overview of global flows of plastic packaging materials. In addition to the 14% of plastic packaging collected for recycling, another 14% is recovered in energy or integrated in industrial processes. Furthermore, an overwhelming 72% of plastic packaging is not recovered at all: 40% is landfilled, and 32% leaks out of the collection system. Either, it is not collected at all or it is collected but then illegally dumped.


Source: Ellen Macarthur Foundation

Plastic is hardly fully recyclable

Unfortunately, all plastics can’t recover their initial characteristics. Actually, among recycled plastic packaging, 14% is correctly recycled, 29% is lost and 57% is recycled but degraded.

Source: Ellen Macarthur Foundation

More plastic than fish in the ocean!

Finally, every year, 8 million of tons of plastic go directly in oceans, which is the equivalent of dumping the equivalent of a dumpster every minute.

Researchers estimate that if nothing changes, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.


Source: Ellen Macarthur Foundation

While polymer based materials are presenting significant advantages in terms of hygiene, weight, health, protection and convenience for consumers and goods, nobody can ignore the non-sustainable aspect of the current linear-cycle model and the management of after-use waste.

Conference objectives

A rising number of stakeholders, researchers, producers, industrials, retailers, waste management companies, public and private organizations invest effort and money into strategic initiatives aiming at deploying more sustainable innovative models.

- Which are the most promising research projects?

- Could we live without polymers?

- How could actors engage in efficient change programs?

- What are the potential collaborations between players to set the pace for radical model transformations?

- What are the effective partnerships between public and private players to “make it happen”?

- How to align stakeholders’ energies to deploy best practices in Belgium, Europe and around the world?

- What opportunities could this hold for our planet and… our economies?


This congress differentiates from other initiatives by having:

- A positive approach to change management that will require shared actions and responsibilities

- The implication of all actors along the spectrum who collectively need to design and deploy innovative models

- At the end of the day and following the event, communication on concrete actions to study, pilot and roll-out initiatives

- Cross-fertilization between players at the different stages in the plastic value chain, from industry to consumer

Contact us


+ 32(0) 478 47 45 16