Repak launches Plastic Pledge Report 2019
Over one hundred of Ireland’s industry leaders will this year divert a total of 16,100 tonnes of plastic packaging waste from the Irish market according to the findings of a report conducted by Repak on the plastic recycling behaviour of its Plastic Pledge initiative membership.
The news is part of Repak’s second progress report of its Plastic Pledge initiative, which highlights the continued proactive approach that 115 of Ireland’s industry leaders are taking to remove avoidable plastics, with an emphasis on single use plastics, from their business premises and from sale. Repak’s Plastic Pledge report also monitors and quantifies the efforts to reduce plastic as part of Ireland’s efforts to meet obligations under the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package (CEP).
Other findings from the second annual Repak Plastic Pledge Report include:
- Businesses who signed the pledge reduced their plastic usage by an average of 14.8% in 2019
- Repak Plastic Pledge members used over 21,000 tonnes of recycled plastics in the production of their packaging and raw materials in 2019
- Since 2018, there has been an increase by two thirds (66%) in the number of separate programmes initiated by Plastic Pledge members that are in progress or completed. Each of these programmes has been designed to make plastic packaging more recyclable
- The launch of a Packaging Design Guide to support Repak members in relation to the eco-design of plastic packaging.
- Formation of a Plastic Challenge Working Group
Repak asks the members of its Plastic Pledge initiative to focus on achieving five objectives. In 2019, examples of Repak Plastic Pledge members successfully achieving these objectives are as follows:
- Objective 1: Prioritise the prevention of plastic packaging waste: Quinn Packaging developed a lightweight programme across its Vacuum Skin Packaging Tray range which prevented 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging entering the market in 2019
- Objective 2: Support Ireland to deliver the Circular Economy Package’s plastic recycling targets: Kingspan recycled 250 million PET bottles into raw materials
- Objective 3: Reduce complexity in the plastic packaging supply chain: Tesco removed PVC from the base tray and films in several own brand cooked meats and produce packaging, resulting in a full year removal of over 359 tonnes of PVC from packaging
- Objective 4: Incorporate recycled content to build a circular economy: Coca Cola HBC removed 4,950 tonnes of virgin PET in favour of recycled PET.
- Objective 5: Ensure our approach aligns to the EPA’s Food Waste Charter: Lidl donated 418,177 meals to FoodCloud with an estimated value of €526,923 in surplus food. From an environmental perspective, that’s an approximate 562,051 kg of CO2 -equivalent avoided.
Speaking on the success of Repak’s Plastic Pledge to date and the work done by the programme’s 115 members, CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy said:
“Today we are delighted to announce that the 115 members of Repak’s Pledge on Plastic Packaging Waste will remove 16,100 tonnes of avoidable plastic waste from the Irish market this year and use 21,000 of recycled plastic in new production, the ultimate circular economy objective.
Since it was launched, Repak’s Plastic Pledge initiative has taken significant steps in reducing Ireland’s plastic packaging waste and has continued to grow in its second year – increasing the number of active programmes by 66% and its pledge membership by over 90% this year alone. The significant drive to increase the recyclability of plastic packaging and reduce material complexity by the ‘Plastic Pledge’ members has resulted in an increased percentage of recyclable plastic packaging placed on the Irish market with greater opportunities for recycling.
The formation of the new plastic challenge working group is also another important milestone towards fulfilling our commitment to meeting packaging recycling targets of 50% of all plastics by 2025 and 55% of all plastic packaging by 2030 set by the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package as they work towards solutions to the defined challenges in the collection and recycling of household and commercial waste.
I would also encourage all businesses to review the recently launched Repak Packaging Design Guide in relation to the eco-design of plastic packaging. The guide provides great insight into how plastic and other common packaging materials are recycled, how design can impact on those processes and how businesses can improve the recyclability of the packaging they place on the market. It’s important that organisations take this opportunity to review the recyclability of packaging they place on the market before the eco-modulation of fees for plastic packaging is introduced in 2021 - a key element of the new EU Waste Framework Directive in helping to achieve the ambition of the EU’s Plastic Strategy for 100% recyclable packaging by 2030.”
Formation of a Plastic Challenge Working Group
The Plastic Challenge Working Group, a multi stakeholder working group tasked with finding solutions to the key barriers to achieving the objectives of the Repak Plastic Strategy, was also formed in November 2019. Stakeholders include Repak member businesses, representatives from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), local authorities and the Irish Waste Management Association.
To date, the group has worked to define the challenges involved in the collection and recycling of flexible plastic packaging from Irish households and in improving plastic packaging recycling rates from commercial businesses. Some examples of the projects currently complete, in progress or being examined by the group are:
- A waste training programme designed for businesses to help them understand their legal obligations and waste management best practices – in progress
- A list and toolkit for what can be recycled at a business premises to be made available at www.mywaste.ie – in progress
- Improving the sharing of data to allow for more accurate waste data – examining feasibility
- Metrics and assessment of business performance on waste management – examining feasibility
- Guidance on Eco Fee Modulation and associated Packaging Design Guide – completed - May 2020
- Reintroduction of Flexible Plastic Packaging to household recycling collections – examining feasibility
- Standardisation of Household Recycling Bin Colours – examining feasibility
- Introduction of a financial incentive scheme or green bank to help accelerate capital for new plastic recycling facilities – examining feasibility
- Standardise on pack labelling to enhance plastic recycling – in progress