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Plastic Pledge Members reduce plastic by an average 25% in 2021

 In 2021, Repak Plastic Pledge Members achieved an average plastic packaging recycling rate at their premises of 69%, 19% ahead of 2025 EU targets, and diverted a total of 26,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste from the Irish market. Plastic Pledge Members also reduced their plastic packaging by an average of 25% - removing or replacing over 600 million single use plastic items. That’s according to the findings of Repak’s fourth report analysing the progress of its Plastic Pledge initiative. 

The Plastic Pledge Report highlights the achievements of Repak’s Plastic Pledge signatories, of which there are now 142, against the five objectives of Repak’s Plastic Pledge in 2021. Speaking at the launch of the 2021 Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge Report, Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment, Ossian Smyth TD said:   

““Repak and its Plastic Pledge Members are leading the way in helping to reduce plastic packaging waste. It’s heartening to read that they either removed or replaced 600 million single use plastic items in their packaging in one year. They are demonstrating to wider business how ‘best-in-class’ sustainable thinking and actions can benefit both the environment and the economy. But we also have to see this progress as the start of transformative change, as Ireland faces a great challenge to meet EU circular economy targets."
“I note that Repak sees substantial potential for business to improve the segregation and recycling of commercial waste. The Government’s Circular Economy Bill and Circular Economy Strategy will provide definitive policy support and direction for business to fully play its role and meet its responsibilities for the products it places on the market. I look forward to us working together – to build on the promising results of today’s Plastic Pledge Report.”

CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy added: 

“2021 was another year of positive progress by Repak’s Members in helping to deliver the actions set out in Repak’s Plastic Packaging Recycling Strategy 2018–2030. In 2021, our Plastic Pledge Initiative Members achieved an average commercial back door plastic recycling rate of 69%, removed 26,000 tonnes of avoidable plastic waste from the estimated 315,805 tonnes of plastic packaging waste placed on the Irish market, and reduced their overall plastic usage by an average of 25%.”
The number of businesses signed up to the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge has now increased to 142 and the momentum in relation to tackling avoidable plastic packaging waste, increasing the recyclability of plastic packaging and incorporating recycled content continues to move forward. Each Member continues to play a role in supporting Ireland to remain on course to meet EU Circular Economy requirements by the end of the decade. 

We look forward to working with our Plastic Pledge signatories, partners and stakeholders throughout 2022 to ensure that progress continues on projects that will enable our waste management and recycling programmes to capture more plastic packaging and reach the circular economy targets for plastic packaging. We also reach out to businesses that have yet to embrace the positive environmental impact they can have in signing up to the Plastic Pledge.”

Commercial Premises 

The Plastic Pledge report also highlighted Repak’s campaign to address the area of plastic packaging backdoor waste segregation in line with objective two of the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge. In 2020, Repak saw a 3.5% decline in the tonnes of backdoor plastic packaging waste it funded for recycling versus 2019. The report outlines what legal obligations businesses must meet to segregate waste correctly and the role Waste Contractors play in maximising commercial recycling. 

Repak asks Members of its Plastic Pledge initiative to focus on achieving five objectives. In 2021, examples of Repak Plastic Pledge Members successfully achieving these objectives are as follows:

Objective 1:  Prioritise the prevention of plastic packaging waste 

Coca Cola HBC Ireland & Northern Ireland continued their focus on primary packaging and reducing the overall plastic needed in bottles. Through ‘light-weighting’, of plastic bottles they use 12% less plastic. Their light-weighting initiatives reduce plastic use by approximately 1,200 tonnes annually.

Objective 2:  Support Ireland to deliver the Circular Economy Package’s plastic recycling targets 
In 2021, Blenders recycled 90% of all plastic packaging on site.

Objective 3:  Reduce complexity in the plastic packaging supply chain

50% of vac pack bags used by Irish Country Meats is now PVDC free thus improving their recyclability. Carbon black trays have also been fully removed from production.

Objective 4:  Incorporate recycled content to build a circular economy 

In 2021, Lidl introduced new reusable heavy-duty shopping bags made from 100% recycled material taken from Lidl’s own plastic waste. 

Objective 5:  Ensure our approach aligns to the EPA’s Food Waste Charter 

In 2021 Nestlé Cereals joined Too Good to Go’s “Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste” campaign to tackle date label confusion and drive understanding around Best Before labels. The initiative encourages consumers to use their senses instead of purely following BBE dates and all Nestlé Cereals now feature the campaign messaging on box to remind consumers that not all food past its BBE date needs to be thrown away. 

For a full list of Plastic Pledge Member programmes completed in 2021 and programme plans for 2022, you can access a copy of the Repak Members' Plastic Pledge Report here.