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Save our nation from contamination!

Over 100,000 tonnes of contaminated recyclable material goes to landfill each year!

Repak is in the middle of the 16th annual Repak Recycle Week and is calling on businesses and consumers alike to educate themselves on waste contamination and the significant impact it can have on the environment.

Ireland and contamination

A survey of over 1,300 people, conducted by Repak, has discovered an awareness gap between good recycling practice and the negative effects of contamination.  Despite 90% of respondents recycling on a regular basis, over 53% of those surveyed were not entirely sure what can and cannot go into their recycling bin. 65% of people were unware that just one contaminated item can contaminate an entire bin and 47% of people admitted to placing contaminated items into their recycling bin.

The results of the survey have revealed that each year, 100,000 tonnes of contaminated recyclable material is sent to landfill which causes considerable damage to the environment. Cans and bottles are the two items that almost half of Irish people have admitted to incorrectly recycling on a regular basis, yet 45% confessed that they would correct their neighbour if they found them recycling incorrectly.

In 2015, approximately 28,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard packaging, 13,000 tonnes of plastic and 29,000 tonnes of glass was sent to landfill because of contamination – that’s the equivalent of 550 Boeing 737 jets at maximum take-off capacity. That’s some statistic – particularly when you consider that the 50% of respondents admitted that they don’t recycle due to lack of facilities available at their accommodation. The results of this survey give recyclable food for thought and spotlight the effects that not recycling properly can have on our surroundings.

Most common contamination mistakes

The Repak research also revealed the following recycling mistakes made by Irish people:

  • Over 32% recycle used cling film, cans and bottles with liquid residue inside them, and used batteries in the recycling bin accidently or on purpose.
  • 25% never rinse or clean out liquid residues from containers, so even if they place them in the right bin, they are still contaminated and can leak onto other dry recyclables eliminating their quality and value.
  • Over 50% say they had never taken the time to learn about recycling procedures and learned to recycle from friends and family or just made it up as they went along.

Promoting “recycle better” behaviour and avoiding contamination

The idea of Repak Recycle Week is to highlight the issue of contamination and the negative impact contamination has on the quality of recyclables placed in the wrong collection systems. Repak wants to encourage people to “recycle better” by promoting good recycling behaviour such as;

1.       Ensuring you rinse any food or liquid residues from containers.

2.       Ensure you’re fully aware of what can go in your recycle bin and do not place incorrect materials in the recycle bin.

3.       Ensure you know the correct collection day for their area so recyclables do not build up and get put in other bins.

4.       Do not put mixed recyclables compacted into a box or bag and then into your recycle bin as these need to be pulled out for mechanical separation.

5.       Not to put food waste or other compostable materials such as garden waste in your recycle bin.

6.       Do not put electrical items in your recycle bin.

7.       Do not put clothes in your recycle bin.

8.       Do not put old shoes in your recycle bin.

9.       Do not put used batteries in your recycle bin.

10.   Recycle more items from the bathroom or others areas of house.

Repak Ambassadors

Television personality Brian Dowling is working with Repak on the campaign this year to highlight the importance of contamination in recycling: “I’m delighted to be raising awareness of this important issue. It is really encouraging to see so many people participate in the contamination station at South King Street today to ensure that they are recycling properly. Repak Recycle Week is a very special initiative – now let’s get Ireland recycling!”.  

Ireland's top influencers and recycling fanatics are on board with this campaign and will be taking over the Repak snapchat this week. Follow @repakrecycling to see updates from Rosemary MacCabe, James Kavanagh and Timi Ogunyemi. Find us on Facebook @Repak

Repak, this year, celebrates 19 years of packaging recycling success in Ireland. This is due to the consistent commitment of its 2,085 members who fund the recycling of 762,464 tonnes of used packaging which was placed on the market by them in 2015, and the Irish consumers who are active recyclers.  Irish businesses have collectively invested over €350 million since 1997 through Repak to drive Ireland’s packaging recycling efforts. This has lifted Ireland from being one of Europe’s poorest performers to the highest in Europe for packaging recycling.

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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