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Ireland surpasses all EU recycling targets for 2018

Read our Annual Report 2018

Ireland Surpasses All EU Recycling Targets with highest ever rate of recycling and recovery of packaging waste

Repak, Ireland’s packaging recycling compliance scheme, funded the recycling and recovery of 904,249 tonnes of packaging in 2018, a 10.5% increase on 2017.

  • Ireland’s overall recycling rate of 68% for all materials is ahead of the EU targets by 13% and one of the lead performances in Europe
  • 2018 was a significant year for Repak in addressing the major plastics challenge
  • In 2018, Repak launched its Plastic Packaging Recycling Strategy 2018-2030, a significant document containing 35 key recommendations covering all stakeholder groups.
  • The Repak Members’ Pledge on Plastic Packaging Waste was developed in Q4 2018 to gain commitments from producers to implement changes in their supply chain in relation to plastic packaging, while also minimising food waste
  • In September 2018, Repak also launched Team Green, a national public awareness initiative encouraging the Irish public to recycle more plastic
  • Since Team Green’s launch, 11.4m additional pieces of plastic have been recycled versus the same period in 2017

27th June 2019: Ireland has surpassed every recycling and recovery target set for it by the European Commission, with recycling rates as follows: Glass at 86% (EU target: 60% ), Metals at 79% (EU target: 50%), Paper at 78% (EU target: 60%), Wood at 95% (EU target:15%) and Plastic at 33% (EU target: 22.5%).

The announcement was made this morning by Repak, Ireland’s only government-approved packaging recycling compliance scheme, at the launch of its 2018 Annual Report. The title of this year’s report is Shared Responsibility, signifying the collective effort required by all stakeholders, including producers and consumers, in order for Ireland to reach the ambitious plastic recycling targets coming down the line in both 2025 and 2030. While Ireland currently recycles 33% of all plastics, higher than most EU countries, that figure needs to rise to 50% in 2025 and 55% by 2030 to meet EU targets.

Recycling and Recovery Statistics for 2018

In 2018, recycling increased by 15,930 tonnes (2.5%) to 636,310 tonnes and plastic waste recovery increased by 70,431 tonnes (35.7%) to 267,939 tonnes. In total, Repak funded the recovery and recycling of 904,249 tonnes of packaging waste in 2018, an increase of 86,361 tonnes from 2017. Through the contributions made by its Members, Repak funds the collection of household recycling bins, civic amenity sites and bottle banks nationwide.

This is the highest volume ever recorded in Ireland, and a 10.5% increase on 2017’s figure. Today’s 2018 figures from Repak confirm that Ireland has surpassed all recycling and recovery targets for the twenty-first year in a row. In 2018, household and domestic recycling increased by 6,000 tonnes (2%) and commercial recycling increased by 10,000 tonnes (3%).

Speaking about the ongoing effort Repak Members and the Irish public are making to improve recycling and recovery levels in Ireland, CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy, said:

“This morning, I am pleased to announce that 2018 was a pivotal year for recycling, recovery and environmental policy in Ireland. A 10.5% increase in recycling and recovery rates across all materials and market segments builds on the strong results achieved in previous years and is something that we, as a top tier recycling nation, should be proud of. A decade of incremental positive changes is required to reach our future EU recycling targets and, to date, Repak Members and the Irish public have answered the call and improved their recycling habits and polices in what can only be described as a team effort. Achieving our recycling targets is a shared responsibility which requires producers to reduce plastic packaging, increase the recyclability of their packaging, and consumers to ensure they recycle plastic packaging correctly.

“This is steady progress, however a major effort across all parts of society will be needed to increase our plastic recycling to achieve highly challenging future EU targets. By 2030 we will have to double our plastic recycling and work has started towards that highly challenging goal,”

Addressing the Plastics Challenge

2018 was a significant year for Repak as it addressed the plastics challenge by launching both its Plastic Packaging Recycling Strategy and consumer-facing initiative Team Green. Team Green was launched during Repak Recycle Week in September 2018 to inspire better recycling behaviour amongst the Irish public and to help ensure Ireland reaches its future recycling targets, particularly regarding plastics. Brand ambassadors the O’Donovan Brothers, Annalise Murphy, Paul McGrath, Bobby Kerr and Roz Purcell put a relatable face to recycling and demonstrated the need for behavioural change. Since its launch, 11.4m additional pieces of plastic have been recycled versus the previous year and to date, almost 3,500 individuals have made the Team Green plastic promise, pledging to recycle a minimum of one more piece of plastic a week.

Repak’s Plastic Packaging Recycling Strategy 2018-2030, developed with RPS Consultants, contains 35 recommendations across all stakeholder groups, including the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge in Ireland.

At the end of 2018, 30 of Repak’s largest Member companies had signed the Plastic Pledge, committing to work with all stakeholders including their suppliers, customers and the public to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Prioritise the prevention of plastic packaging waste by minimising avoidable single use packaging and promoting packaging reuse where possible.
  2. Support Ireland to deliver the Circular Economy Package plastic recycling targets of 50% of all plastics by 2025 and 55% of all plastic packaging by 2030, as set by the European  Commission.
  3. Reduce complexity within the plastic packaging supply chain by simplifying polymer usage and eliminating non-recyclable components in all plastic packaging by 2030.
  4. Help to build a circular economy for used plastic packaging in Ireland and Europe by increasing the use of plastic packaging with a recycled content.
  5. Ensure their approach to plastic packaging reduction is aligned to Ireland‘s goal of a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 as set out in Ireland’s food waste charter.

The number of Plastic Pledge signatories has risen to 80 today with an expected 10,600 tonnes of plastic packaging waste being diverted from production by the end of this year. These 80 signatories are Repak’s largest Members representing over 70% of packaging placed on the Irish market.

Speaking on the proactive steps Repak has taken to address the issue of plastic recycling in Ireland and the measures taken this year to ensure Ireland reaches it EU targets, CEO of Repak Séamus Clancy said:

We have already begun the process of mobilising the Plastic Strategy and to date, actions like the Plastic Pledge have delivered results. Ireland has always been a top tier recycling nation, but thanks to our Members and the positive actions taken by the Irish public, we are also one of the leading early responders to the plastics challenge. I am also delighted that nearly 3,500 individuals have joined Team Green since we introduced our initiative to the public last September. Since then the promise to recycle at least one more piece of plastic a week has resulted in plastic recycling increasing by an additional 11.4 million pieces in such a short period. Addressing the plastics challenge is a shared responsibility so it’s fantastic to see consumers and business both taking the necessary steps to ensure Ireland reaches the ambitious plastic recycling targets that are coming down the line.

Click here to read a full copy of our Annual Report 2018

Team Green for Schools

Team Green is 3,400 Repak Members working together for a greener Ireland. Ireland has hit every plastic recycling target since 1997. Help us reach 50% of all plastic recycled by 2025.

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