FAQs and Top Tips
What plastics can go in the recycling bin?
Plastic tubs and food trays, yogurt pots, plastic bottles from water, beverages and milk, soap dispensers, shampoo bottles, butter and ice cream tubs are just some of the plastic items that can go in the recycle bin, once they are clean, dry and loose. You can see the full list on our ‘What can I recycle?’ page. Please note that soft plastics are not currently accepted in the recycling bin so should go into the general waste bin. Today, we recycle 33% of all plastics in Ireland. Under new EU law we must achieve plastic recycling targets of 50% by 2025 and 55% by 2030. We need everyone’s help to do this. Repak’s Team Green calls on everyone to recycle just one more piece of plastic, at the very least, per week. In doing so we can recycle 250 million more items of plastic each year.
What should I never put in my recycling bin and why?
You should never put food waste, soft plastic, glass, nappies, garden waste, batteries or dirty recyclables in your recycling bin – please see the full list of recycling contaminants. Contamination in the recycling bin can be as high as 36% in some areas in Ireland. Every year about 87,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material end up in recycling bins and it is estimated that recycling waste operators nationwide take in 1 million nappies every year in recycling bin waste, which is sorted by hand as well as by machine.
What condition does the packaging / plastic need to be in?
Recycables should be placed in the recycling bin clean, dry and loose. This means there should be no food or liquids left in your recycling and you should not put items into plastic bags as these can get tangled in machinery at the recycling plant. You should also avoid putting recyclable items into each other, for example into large paper bags, as the best and quickest way for them to be sorted is if they are loose. It’s a good idea to open out cardboard boxes and squash bottles to give you more room in your recycling bin, for all those extra items around the house that you are now going to recycle!
Where do the recyclables go after being collected?
The waste from your recycling bin is brought to one of the many recycling facilities around the country where it is sorted out both by staff and machinery. The materials are sorted into groups of plastic, paper, aluminium, steel and cardboard. The materials are baled, and then redistributed to specialist companies who reuse these materials to create new products.
I saw a green dot symbol on packaging in my local supermarket – what does this symbol mean?
The Green Dot is a European trademark that producers and suppliers include on their packaging advising consumers that they have contributed financially to the recycling of the products packaging. In Ireland, it means they are members of Repak. It does not mean that all packaging supplied is recyclable.
Is it okay to have personal information on papers and documents when they are being recycled?
When the contents of the household recycling bin arrive at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for sorting, paper gets separated from the other materials and arranged into bales. Paper with personal information on it isn’t separated out for shredding. Both Repak and the recovery operators recommend shredding or ripping up paper with personal information before placing it in your recycling bin.
Can I place plastic bags in my household recycling bin?
No. Plastic bags should not be placed in the recycling bin. They should not be used to line your recycling bin either as they can get caught in the waster operators’ machinery. Please place all recyclables loosely in your bin.
Can I put the metal lids of jam jars and other glass jars into my recycling bin?
Yes, you can place the steel lids from jam and other glass jars in your household recycling bin. Please just make sure they are clean and dry. You can also recycle other steel items such as food tins, biscuit tins and empty aerosol* cans (just make sure they are empty, that the lids are off, and *that this material is accepted by your own individual waste contractor).
I have a virtually new and unused bed and mattress that nobody wants. Is there anyone who can collect it or anywhere I can dispose of it?
There are a few of options available to you. You can take the bed to your local recycling centre and they will recycle it for you. Or you can contact a charity and ask them if they would like it and they may collect it from you. There are also sites such as FreetreIreland and gumtree.ie where you can advertise the bed for free.
How do I recycle white plastic folders that I have in the office?
Generally these types of folders are not accepted for recycling, as they are a mix of cardboard, plastic and steel. Collection systems are set up to accept each material on its own and not mixed with other materials. We suggest you contact your contractor and ask them if they will accept them. You can find a list of contractors here. Also, contact your local recycling facility to see if they will accept them.
In my supermarket I saw a sign saying that as a member of Repak, the store does not have to take back packaging for recycling – why is this?
Repak is a producer responsibility scheme that funds packaging recycling, through fees received from our members, such as supermarkets. The membership fee they pay us is based on the amount and type of packaging they place on the market. Members include Tesco, Microsoft and Green Isle Foods.
Repak then takes this money and pays a subsidy to local authorities and recovery operators to collect, sort and recycle recyclable materials from household recycling bins, bottle banks and recycling centres throughout the Republic of Ireland.
So by being a member of Repak, supermarkets and other members have already paid towards the recycling of the packaging they place on the market and therefore are not obliged to take it back in store.
Can I recycle my glass perfume bottles?
Yes, you can recycle most glass perfume bottles, depending on the colour of the glass. If the glass is clear, green, brown or blue it can go into the relevant bottle bank. You can leave the spray pump and lid on as these will get crushed and sorted out in the recycling process. Any blue bottles can go into the green glass bank. Frosted bottles can go in the clear bottle bank. Any other colours (pink, red etc) can’t go into the usual glass bottle bank and will need to go into the general waste bin.
Top Tips for better recycling
- Know what can go into your recycling / green bin
- Recycle more items from the bathroom, kitchen and other areas of the house – did you know that all of your shower gel, shampoo and detergent / cleaning agent bottles can be easily recycled? – Go on see what else you can find!
- Rinse any food or liquid residues from containers and remove any plastic / metal inserts from boxes being placed into your recycling bin.
- Remove some air from plastic bottles, remove inner packaging and flatten cardboard containers to help with the recycling process and to save space in your bin.
- Do not place mixed recyclables compacted into boxes or bags into your recycling bin – instead empty the contents of the bags / boxes into the bin so that the recyclables are loose and easily separated into different material types (instead reuse your large box or bag to store your next batch of recyclables!)
- Do not put food waste or other compostable materials (such as garden waste, tissue paper and soiled pizza boxes) into your recyclables bin, these materials should be placed into your compost bin.
- WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment – anything with a battery or a plug) can contain hazardous components and should not be placed into any household or business premise bin. WEEE material can be swapped like for like at any electrical supplies store when you are getting a new appliance or can be taken to your local recycling centre from where it will be sent for recycling.
- Clothes or shoes should not be placed into your recycling bin, instead bring them to charity shops or dedicated clothes banks for recycling. Items of clothing can wrap around machinery parts and cause problems at recycling facilities.
- Batteries should not be placed into bins. Batteries must be recycled appropriately and can be placed in battery boxes located in any shop that sells them. Schools often collect batteries and can win prizes for doing so see if any of your local schools have a scheme. Car batteries can be brought to local recycling centres or garages where you can get money back for them due to their lead content.
- Know the correct collection day for your area – to ensure recyclables don’t build up and end up in the wrong bin.
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