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Ireland’s Christmas eco-consciousness unwrapped

 New research from Repak reveals shoppers’ behaviour this Christmas.

  • Ireland is expected to generate 75,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas
  • 68% say that the environment will influence how they shop at Christmas
  • 57% consciously purchase Christmas gifts that come with recyclable packaging
  • 80% plan to shop local this Christmas, with half choosing to do so as it is better for the environment and 49% shopping local to reduce their carbon footprint
  • 44% were not aware that not all Christmas wrapping paper can be recycled
  • At least 1 in 10 will choose not to wrap any of their Christmas presents this year, a third of those have made that choice for environmental reaso

Ireland is expected to generate 75,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas. Despite this, almost a third (31%) of those polled by Repakii admit that the environment does not influence how they shop at Christmas and another 43% will still purchase a Christmas gift even if the packaging is not fully recyclable.

This Christmas, Repak is encouraging consumers to make a conscious effort to reduce waste and recycle better during the festive season and beyond. By taking the time to find out what is recyclable, we can all play a part in ensuring that waste items are disposed of correctly. To learn more about how to recycle better, visit

Festive environmentalism

According to the Repak study, 68% of respondents are influenced by the environment when it comes to their Christmas shopping. When asked why, 79% would like to reduce their packaging waste, 76% are conscious of the effects of climate change and over half (55%) are keen to be more eco-conscious when it comes to their Christmas shopping habits.

For most of those polled, when it comes to their Christmas shopping, perhaps there’s no place like home. At least 8 in 10 consumers plan to shop local this Christmas, with half of those doing so as they believe it’s better for the environment and 49% saying they shop local to reduce their carbon footprint. A third of respondents also believe that shopping locally will reduce the amount of packaging they have to recycle.

Is awareness keeping pace with consumption?

Retail Ireland has forecast that consumers in Ireland will spend more than ever this Christmas, an estimated €4.65 billioniiI over the festive season alone. This announcement comes as the Repak research reveals that almost a fifth (18%) will spend between €500-€1,000 on Christmas gifts and a further quarter (25%) plan to spend between €300-€500.

While 4 in 10 of those polled say that they would like to know how to recycle all items correctly at Christmas, a staggering 44% did not know that not all wrapping paper can be recycled. Only 12% of those polled will choose to not wrap any Christmas presents this year, with a third of these citing environmental reasons.

Gift spending aside, for many householders in Ireland shopping for food and drink at Christmas is a key aspect of their festive spending routine. A significant 80% would be more inclined to do their Christmas food shopping with a supermarket that has a packaging waste reduction initiative in place. Those respondents will be delighted to hear that over 100 Repak members, including all major supermarkets, have joined the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledgeiv, committing to five ambitious objectives aimed at reducing unnecessary packaging, increasing the recyclability of packaging and minimising food waste.

Christmas e-gifting

73% of respondents will shop online this Christmas, despite 71% believing that online shopping results in more packaging waste accompanying their purchases in comparison to making the same purchase in a store. This year, deliveries of items purchased from international online retailers will result in over 11,700 tonnes of packaging waste, the equivalent of the packaging generated by a town the size of Killarney, being sent to households and online businessesv and most of this waste will be generated over the festive season. A recent online shopping report by Repak forecasts that packaging waste generated from international online sales could surpass 100,000 tonnes in Ireland by 2032, placing a significant financial burden on the Irish waste industry.

Building on Ireland’s strong recycling track record

In 2018, Ireland surpassed every recycling and recovery target set by the EU with recycling of 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%).

While residents in Ireland have made vast improvements to their recycling habits over the last two decades and are more eco-conscious than ever, Ireland needs to raise its recycling levels to meet EU recycling targets in the coming years.

Repak is encouraging residents nationwide to become more aware of their recycling behaviour and how they manage their waste disposal, over Christmas in particular. By ensuring all recyclable items are clean, dry and loose in the recycling bin, everyone can play their part in reducing waste and increasing recycling over the festive season.

CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy said; ‘This Christmas, we are calling on Irish residents to become more conscious about their recycling behaviour. By making sure that all recyclable items are placed clean, dry and loose in the recycling bin and becoming more aware of how we dispose of our waste whether at home, at work or out and about, we can all play our part.

Another positive step that the public can take is to join our initiative, Team Green and make a pledge to recycle more. Since first launching Team Green, over 5,000 individuals have pledged to become environmental champions. Team Green has demonstrated the difference that we can make by leading by example and I would encourage those who have not yet joined to log onto and commit to recycle better, reduce waste, and protect our environment.

For more information on how to recycle correctly, visit

iirefers to survey of 500 consumers conducted by Repak in December 2019

iiisourced from the Repak Members Plastic Pledge, which can be read in full here:

ivsourced from data published by Retail Ireland, November 2019

vrefers to the 2019 Repak Online Shopping Report, published in November 2019

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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