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FAQs about Repak

What is Repak?

Repak is an environmental not-for-profit organisation with a social mission. Our purpose, on behalf of our Members, is to: lead the recycling and sustainability of Ireland's packaging waste; advocate for a new circular economy: and educate businesses and consumers on reducing and recycling packaging waste.  Repak was set up in 1997 to help our Member businesses meet their legal obligation to recycle the packaging they place on the Irish market. We now have over 3,400 Members, whose fees fund household recycling bins, bottle banks, civic amenities and business back-door packaging waste nationwide. 

Is Repak a government organisation?

Repak is not a government organisation. We are a not-for-profit organisation set up by Irish businesses and owned by our Members. We operate under a licence approved by the Minster for the Environment to function as a compliance scheme for packaging recovery in Ireland.

How is Repak funded?

We are funded by our Members. Repak Members pay fees directly related to the amount of packaging they place on the Irish Market. The more packaging a Member produces the more they pay. These fees are then used to fund the collection and recycling of the packaging that our Members place on the Irish market. This is achieved by funding household recycling bins, bottle banks, recycling centres (civic amenities) and business packaging waste nationwide. 

What is Repak’s ‘social mission’?

Repak’s social mission is to increase the sustainability of the packaging system in Ireland. We are a not-for-profit organisation that looks to reduce the amount of packaging on the Irish market, ensures that businesses are contributing to the recycling and recovery of the material they place on the market and looks to build a true circular economy whereby packaging material is captured for re-use. To do this, we seek to educate consumers, schools, communities and business organisations on how to work collaboratively to recycle more materials, keep them separated within the waste stream to ensure we are maximising our recycling potential. We also advocate for our members to be a valued interface with waste management operators and consumers in Ireland to ensure the packaging supply chain functions in a manner that is compliant with our EU environmental targets. 

Does Repak manage recycling facilities?

We do not own or manage recycling facilities. Collection and recycling of waste packaging is carried out by Recovery Operators who Repak approves and funds, to provide this service under strict contract conditions. Repak-approved Operators include private sector collectors, material recovery facility operators and Local Authorities/County Councils that are responsible for the management of local recycling facilities such as bottle banks or civic amenity centres. You can find a list of recycling facility locations on mywaste.ie.

Why is Repak asking people to recycle more plastic?

We want to increase the amount of plastic that is recycled to help Ireland reach the higher plastic recycling targets set by the EU for 2025 and 2030. Ireland has surpassed all recycling targets in the past number of years but as these continue to increase, we need the help of the Irish public to achieve these goals. Ireland currently recycles 33% of all plastics, but by 2025 we will have to recycle 50% of all plastics and by 2030 we must achieve 55%. This is part of an overall EU Circular Economy strategy on plastics.  We are working with our Members to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging and increase the recyclability of plastic packaging through our Prevent & Save Programme and Plastic Pledge, and with consumers, to drive better recycling, through our Team Green campaign.

Why does Repak not recycle materials itself?

We do not recycle the packaging ourselves as we are a packaging compliance scheme. We do not handle the packaging waste directly but partner with Repak-approved Recovery Operators, Waste Contractors and Local Authorities to collect and recycle waste packaging from households and businesses on behalf of our Members. Our Members fees are used to fund the collection and recycling of household recycling bins, bottle banks, recycling centres (civic amenities) and business packaging waste nationwide. 

Membership of Repak

Who are Repak’s Members?

Our Members are businesses who place packaging on the Irish market. We have a wide range of Members, including retailers, both large and independent, packaging companies, hotels, restaurants, manufacturers, contract packers, brand-holders, importers and distributors. Our Members operate across a variety of sectors such as retail, hospitality, manufacturers and many more. View a full list of our current Members and find out more about Our Members and their impact.

How do I join Repak?

We offer two different types of Membership: Scheduled and Regular. If your business is obligated and qualifies for our Scheduled Membership, joining Repak is as easy as completing and applying. Regular Membership is a little more complicated because packaging statistics are required, although submission of an application will kick-start this process. Repak has a Regular Member ‘fast track’ route that can help speed up Membership considerably. Our sales team are here to answer any questions on register@repak.ie

What is the difference between a Regular and Scheduled Member?

We offer Scheduled membership to businesses who retail directly to the consumer and do not import or are not brand holders, for example, independent retailers, pubs, off-licences, pharmacies etc. Your business will pay an initial joining and yearly re-occurring Membership (flat) fee associated with your turnover, with no need to submit packaging statistics. Regular membership is offered to manufacturers, contract packers, brand-holders, importers, distributors and retailers. If your business falls into this category you will pay an initial joining and bi-yearly re-occurring Membership fees that are based on the submission of packaging statistics (i.e. packaging placed on the Irish market).

How do I know which Membership I need?

If you are a pub, restaurant, hotel or an independent retailer (including hardware, electrical, off licence or pharmacy) and your business is neither a brand holder nor importer, you qualify for Scheduled Membership. If your business manufactures, imports or has branded packaging then you are a Regular Member. This includes contract packers. The best way to confirm your Membership type is by speaking to one of our Sales Team.

Does my business have to join Repak?

If your business is over the packaging threshold (that is, has as turnover of more than €1 million and places over 10 tonnes of packaging onto the Irish market) you are deemed to be a ‘Major Producer’, have an obligation under the European Union (Packaging) Regulations (2014) and must comply. We are here to help you meet your obligation and to make your packaging journey easier.

How much does it cost to be a Repak member?

This depends on the type and amount of packaging your business places on the Irish Market which also determines the Membership category (Scheduled or Regular) most appropriate for your business. Costs can vary and it is best to speak to a member of our Sales team to help determine a realistic estimate and help start your journey with Repak.

How does Repak determine its Membership fee levels?

Our fees are based on the amount of packaging your business places on the market and your annual turnover. There are different levels of fees depending on several factors in relation to the type of material and its origin. For more details on Membership fees you can contact our Sales team.

What does Repak do with the Membership fees?

Members fees are used to fund the collection and recycling of the packaging that our Members place on the Irish market. This is achieved by funding household recycling bins, bottle banks, recycling centres (civic amenities) and business packaging waste nationwide. In 2019 Members fees funded the recycling and recover of over 1m tonnes of packaging waste. Members fees also funded education programs for consumers and businesses and the overhead cost of operating the scheme.

Is this another tax?

This is not a tax. Any Irish business that places over 10 tonnes of packaging on the market and has a turnover of over €1 million is obligated to fund the recovery and recycling of that packaging. Repak Membership offers a cost-effective compliance solution, and the opportunity to partner with a leading environmental not-for-profit organisation, driving change in Ireland and advocating on your behalf. This eliminates your business having to become self-compliant.

How do I know if I am placing >10 tonnes of packaging onto the market?

The number of tonnes your business places on the Irish market will need to be determined through an audit. We can help you make this assessment. If your business is a retailer or pharmacy and requires Scheduled Membership you can use one of our packaging calculators to understand the tonnage of all goods sold. If your business is in hospitality (pub, restaurant or hotel) all the products consumed on-site are included in your obligation, with glass the largest component contributing towards weight. Glass tonnage data can be requested from your recovery operator to see if your business is over 10 tonnes.

What do I get for the cost of joining Repak?

As a business that places packaging on the Irish market, Repak Membership gives you full legal compliance with the Packaging Regulations. Your membership fee contributes towards the funding of recycling throughout Ireland and helps to raise awareness of recycling and educate businesses and consumers. Member benefits also include packaging design and optimisations services, our Prevent & Save Programme for business, and by taking part in Repak initiatives you can increase the sustainability of your packaging and enhance your green credentials.

Why does my business need to become compliant?

If you are a 'Major Producer' and have an obligation under the European Union (Packaging) Regulations (2014), you are required by law to become compliant. If your business avoids compliance this will come to the attention of Local Authorities who are the enforcers of the legislation and have the power to prosecute your business.

Why do I have to become compliant when I already pay for my waste and recycling?

Even though your business pays for your back-door waste to be collected by your recovery operator, the legislation relates to packaging sold via your front door. Packaging placed onto the Irish market in this way requires collection and processing and the Regulations place this responsibility with your business, the ‘producer’.

What are ‘back fees’ and why do I have to pay them?

Back fees exist in the interest of fairness, to make a non-compliant business accountable for the years that their obligation was not met. Existing Repak Members have been funding their packaging obligation for many years. Their membership fees have in turn subsidised businesses with an obligation that have made no contribution (deemed ‘free-riders’). This imbalance provides a financial advantage gained over competitors that have complied with the legislation.

Does Repak provide value for money?

Yes, first and foremost. If your business has an obligation and is a ‘Major Producer’ Repak offers a cost-effective solution to becoming legally compliant with the Packaging Regulations. However, we have many other additional Member benefits.

How does Repak help its members reduce packaging waste?

Our packaging technologists work directly with companies to identify areas where packaging waste can be prevented or minimised, and to help them design packaging that is easier to recycle. Our Prevent & Save Programme has offered this service since 2006 and, in 2018 we launched our Plastic Strategy and Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge, with Members committing to five key objectives to reduce plastic and minimise waste. These initiatives can significantly reduce the overall amount of packaging your business places on the Irish market and reduce your costs.

What is an Authorised Representative and whom does Repak represent?

We now offer an Authorised Representative (AR) service to help WEEE Producers comply with the European Union (Batteries and Accumulators) Regulations 2014. These new regulations have introduced the concept of an ‘authorised representative’ which means “any natural or legal person established within the State who has been appointed by written mandate from a producer, established in another Member State to fulfil the obligations of that producer, pursuant to these Regulations in the State”. If you would like more information on Repak’s Authorised Representative Service then please get in contact by phoning us or email us at ar@repak.ie

Recovery Operators

What is a Recovery Operator?

Recovery Operators are businesses which undertake the collection and recycling or recovery of commercial packaging waste and / or household packaging waste from households or registered recycling centres (civic amenities). Repak contracts the services of both public and private recovery operators all over Ireland, including private waste management companies and local authorities.  These operators manage all commercial or domestic waste packaging (paper, plastic, glass, metals, wood). You can search our full list of Recovery Operators by category.

How do you monitor waste collector compliance? (What assurances do you have that waste will be dealt with correctly?)

The Repak ‘Recycling & Recovery’ Team conducts annual Contract Compliance Audits on the top 30 Recovery Operators (top 90% to verify recycling tonnages and value for money). We check all licences, permits, insurance etc., to ensure all are up to date and relevant. Additionally, all Recovery Operators provide monthly online reporting of tonnages recycled, with the relevant documentation support which our team checks on a monthly basis and further verifies as part of compliance auditing.

Why are all recovery operators not registered with Repak?

Recovery operators are not obligated to provide services to Repak, but they can apply to become a Repak-approved Recovery Operator provided they have the necessary permits and licences to operate by law. If a recovery operator collects or recycles packaging waste, they can apply to become a Repak-approved Recovery Operator.

Legislation, Policies and Directives

What is the ‘circular economy’?

A circular economy is where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste is minimised.  It also embraces the concept of waste as a resource and secondary raw material, to be reused and recycled in a more sustainable manner, in the manufacture of new product. It is a shift away from the linear model ‘take, make and waste’ which relies on a steady supply of natural resources to create products and packaging.

What is a ‘packaging compliance scheme’?

Repak is a packaging compliance scheme. A ‘packaging compliance scheme’ takes on the legal obligations required by EU & Irish Packaging Waste Legislation on behalf of its Members. This includes: ensuring that Members report packaging data they place on the market accurately; and that the recycling of packaging placed on the market by Members is carried out in accordance with legislative targets for each material type, paper, plastic, glass, metals and wood.  The scheme also ensures education and consumer information obligations are delivered on behalf of Members. It also provides a yearly statement of compliance to Government confirming how Members’ recovery and recycling obligations and consumer information obligations were met. Finally, a compliance scheme provides advice and guidance to Members about waste packaging design, optimisation, recycling and recovery responsibilities to ensure they fulfil their duties and protect the environment.

What is an ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ Scheme?

Since the late 1980s, the concept of “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) has become an established principle of environmental policy in an increasing range of countries. EPR aims to make producers responsible for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the product chain, from design to the post-consumer phase. It focuses on managing end-of-life products, reducing the amount of waste destined for final disposal, and increasing rates of recycling. As a packaging compliance scheme, Repak is also an EPR scheme.

Do EPR schemes operate in other EU member states?

Yes. Not only is EPR commonly used across EU Member States it is also a global approach, in that currently about 400 such schemes are in operation across the world, most of them in the OECD and some in emerging market economies.

EPR schemes are used not only for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste but also for other waste streams such as: electronics; tyres; batteries; vehicles/auto batteries; graphic paper; oil and medical waste etc.

If I suspect somebody is breaching packaging waste regulations what do I do?

Local Authorities are responsible for the enforcement of the EU (Packaging) Regulations 2014. If you believe a company is in breach of the regulations, you should contact the Environment Section of the relevant Local Authority. Information on the regulations and obligations on Producers and Major Producers is available on all Local Authority websites or on the Repak website.

What checks and balances is Repak subject to on an annual basis?

Repak has an “Approval” (i.e. a licence) from the Minister of Communications, Climate Action & Environment to operate a packaging compliance scheme. The Approval set out the conditions under which Repak must operate and they range from the achievement of annual targets, corporate governance, communication and awareness raising etc. One of the key conditions is reporting and Repak gives a quarterly update to the Department on progress and submits an Annual Report to the Minister which is available in the public domain and circulated to members.

Regarding its finances, Repak complies with international accounting standards and is audited annually by an auditing firm.  It has an Audit Committee which consists of a number of non-executive Directors and its Statutory Accounts are published annually and are presented to members at the Annual General Meeting.

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