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Management of unsold food as condition for environmental permits

On 27 March 2014, the Brussels-Capital Region adopted a Decree modifying article 56 of the Decree of 5 June 1997 on environmental permits (published in the Belgian Gazette on 16 March 2015).


By adopting this Decree, legislators have sought to:

  • combat hunger and food waste so that people in need can be assured of eating without risking their health;
  • apply the waste hierarchy introduced by the Decree of 14 June 2012 concerning waste prevention and waste management. This Decree rules that waste management follows the order of priority of prevention, preparation for reuse, recycling, recovery and finally incineration or landfill.


When issuing an environmental permit, different types of conditions can be imposed:

  • General conditions of operation: applicable to all class 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 undertakings 
  • Sectoral conditions of operation: only applicable to class 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 undertakings from a specific sector. Sectoral conditions can supplement general conditions, or deviate from them upon motivation.
  • Special conditions of operation: imposed by the authority issuing the permit. These conditions must appear in the permit. General and sectoral conditions can be supplemented or clarified by special conditions, but special conditions shall not be less stringent than the general and sectoral conditions.


The Decree adopted on 27 March 2014 modifies article 56 of the Decree of 5 June 1997 by adding a special condition of operation. From now on, the authority issuing environmental permits can impose conditions concerning “the management of unsold food that has not reached its best-before date, that the operator no longer wants to sell and that still meets food safety standards”.

The aim of this condition is not that operators take over the distribution of unsold food to food-aid organizations but only that operators comply with food safety standards and public health obligations when providing unsold food to these organizations.

Unsold food is not defined in the Decree. Nevertheless, operators must comply with several conditions in order to provide their unsold food to organizations:

  • The best-before date must not have expired.
  • The relevant products will not be marketed or biomethanized by the operator.
  • Food safety standards must be fulfilled.


Operators potentially subject to this special condition of operation are branded retail chains whose sale premises or adjacent premises used as storage are equal to or above 1,000m² (operations or plants classified under section 90 of the Executive Decree of the Brussels-Capital Region of 4 March1999 holding the list of class 1B, 2, 3 plants).


The Decree of 27 March 2014 entered into force on 26 March 2015.


Colienne Linard

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