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Ireland expected to generate over 100,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, the festive season is well and truly upon us. Christmas is one of the biggest occasions across the globe for waste generation, with Ireland expected to produce 100,000 tonnes of packaging waste this year. Our recent survey of 1,000 people concluded that 92% of respondants will make a conscious effort to recycle packaging correctly over the festive period.

Buying better, buying local

Although price is a key factor when purchasing gifts this Christmas (60%), quality is also important, with over half (55%) opting for it as a key consideration. 21% of those surveyed agreed that they are more likely to buy Irish this Christmas, with 29% saying that buying from Irish retailers and supporting local businesses is a key priority.

Sustainability Sleighs this Christmas

On average, Irish people plan to spend €375 on gifts this year. However, people are more likely to buy presents that can be reused or kept for a long time, with almost half (49%) saying sustainability is a significant consideration when shopping for others this Christmas season, just 5% stated that they never consider sustainability as a factor.

When it comes to decorating, research shows that an increasing amount of people are opting for a more environmentally conscious approach this year. 72% of those surveyed say they will use last year’s decorations in a bid to reduce their environmental impact, with a further 43% choosing to use low energy sources when it comes to lighting. A further 18% say they will create homemade decorations from reusable materials instead of buying new ones this Christmas. 
When it comes to wrapping gifts in a more sustainable way, 44% plan to use reusable gift or tote bags, while 30% will opt for recycled wrapping paper or newspaper. Across the board, the research indicates there is a considerable uplift in those willing to put sustainability at the forefront this Christmas to reduce their environmental impact and mitigate the over production of waste. 

Reducing Impact

This Christmas, we are encouraging shoppers to make a conscious effort to reduce waste and recycle their packaging correctly, helping Ireland transition to a circular economy. This means placing the appropriate packaging items in the recycling bin clean, dry and loose. Ireland currently recycles 28% of all plastics but needs to increase this to 50% by 2025 to meet EU targets. 

Research shows that almost half (46%) say they are making a conscious effort to reduce their consumption this Christmas. Of those surveyed, 60% stated they plan to reduce the volume of food and drink they buy to prevent excess waste, with 38% planning to buy fewer gifts. 34% will opt for more sustainable gifts, such as buying locally made gifts, with 33% making a conscious effort to give sustainable presents. 23% plan to get crafty this Christmas by upcycling and creating gifts to give to others. 

Re-imagining a ‘Greener’ Christmas

A greener Christmas is top of mind for many Irish people this year. 92% will make a conscious effort to recycle packaging items correctly, and 72% plan to ensure all packaging that can be recycled is placed in the correct bin and is clean, dry, and loose. 62% will dispose of batteries in a local WEEE facility, while 56% will go to their local recycling facility. Almost half (48%) will contribute to the circular economy by saving and storing packaging for use next year. 

We are calling on the Irish public to keep up the good work and ‘re-imagine’ packaging and give a second life by recycling more and better this Christmas. To help the public, read our top recycling tips for a greener Christmas:

•    Wrapping paper – Wrap up this year in style by re-imagining and recycling wrapping paper from gifts received, remembering to keep it clean, dry, and pop it in loose
•    Sweet and biscuit wrappers – Indulge in those essential holiday treats, but remember, the party isn't over until you recycle the wrappers. Re-imagine plastic this Christmas by placing all your empty sweet and biscuit wrappers into the recycling bin clean, dry and loose
•    Paper/cardboard boxes – Don't forget to recycle all the paper, cardboard boxes and Christmas cards
•    Soft plastics – Give plastic a second life by placing it in the recycling bin – all plastics, including soft plastic (anything you can scrunch in your hand) can go in the recycling bin
•    Glass bottles – Get into the festive spirit of re-imagining glass this Christmas by recycling your glass bottles. Once you've enjoyed your drinks, make sure those empty bottles find their way to your local bottle bank

According to a survey we conducted in 2022, the vast majority (95%)  know that when items are recycled correctly, they can have a second life. With packaging waste generation at its highest at Christmas, recycling correctly over the festive season is critical to supporting the reduction of waste and maintaining a circular economy, which ensures that all recycled products continue to be used in the manufacturing of new items.  

CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy commented on the research findings: "As many of us know, the festive season is a hugely busy time for our waste operators, and we are calling on the public to support by recycling their packaging this Christmas. It is important that we all play our part in recycling our packaging effectively to contribute to a circular economy and meet our EU goal of recycling 50% of all plastics by 2025. We can all make a huge impact by recycling and by ensuring our packaging is clean, dry and placed loosely in the correct bin this Christmas.

We're encouraging Irish shoppers to shop with a Repak Member and join Repak Team Green. By working with our 3,400 Members, helping them to recycle and optimise their packaging for a circular economy Repak is committed to supporting Ireland in becoming greener for us and for future generations.”