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Repak releases third annual Plastic Pledge Members Report

Despite difficult circumstances created by the Covid 19 pandemic during 2020, Repak Plastic Pledge Members achieved a combined plastic packaging recycling rate of 67% and diverted a total of 23,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste from the Irish market.

That’s according to the findings of Repak’s third report analysing the progress of its Plastic Pledge initiative. 
The number of businesses signed up to the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge has now increased to 135 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. 

Speaking at the launch of the 2020 Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge Report, Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment, Ossian Smyth TD said:   
‘Since the launch of the Plastic Pledge in 2018, this initiative has grown steadily and it shows that the momentum of projects to tackle avoidable plastic packaging, increase recyclability of plastic packaging and incorporate recycled content where packaging is unavoidable, is continuing to grow. The Plastic Pledge Annual report is important as it highlights and quantifies these initiatives to reduce plastic from the supply chain, as part of Ireland’s efforts to meet the EU target of making all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030.’

CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy added: ‘Last year was a challenging period for us all, but despite that all Members of Repak’s Pledge on Plastic Packaging Waste made huge strides in achieving the Plastic Pledge five objectives. Together, our Plastic Pledge initiative Members have removed 23,000 tonnes of avoidable plastic waste from the estimated 318,760 tonnes of plastic packaging waste being placed on the Irish market and on average, reduced their plastic usage by an average of 18.6%.

We now have 135 signatories to the Plastic Pledge since we launched in 2018 and the number of programmes being implemented to support Ireland reaching future packaging recycling targets set by the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package also continues to grow. Each Member has played a significant role increasing the recyclability of plastic packaging, achieving an average of 54% recycled content which ensures Ireland remains on course to meet EU circular economy requirements by the end of the decade. 
Projects initiated by the Plastic Challenge Working Group have also been recognised by the most important decision makers in the country, with several forming part of the government’s circular economy plan, a testament to the efforts of many of our stakeholders. The group and the Plastic Pledge signatories have achieved so much in the last three years, and we look forward to continuing our work with them and creating more solutions for the environmental sector’.

Other findings from the third annual Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge Report include:
•    Ahead of the Single Use Plastic (SUP) Directive being introduced next month, many Repak Plastic Pledge Members have already removed or replaced any single use plastic items for sale in their businesses, well in advance of the deadline requiring them to do so

•    Plastic Pledge Members who reported projects to increase recycled plastic in packaging have achieved an average of 54% recycled content. Since 2019, over 26,500 tonnes of            recycled plastic have also been reported as used in components or packaging 

•    Beverage producing Plastic Pledge Members, who must meet the recycled content targets set out in the SUP Directive of 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 have managed to achieve an average of 36.5% in specific projects to date

•    When the Plastic Pledge initiative launched in 2019, a Plastic Challenge Working Group was established comprising Repak, Plastic Pledge signatories, policy makers and waste industry representatives . Since then, several projects initiated by the group now form part of the government’s Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy.
Repak asks the Members of its Plastic Pledge initiative to focus on achieving five objectives.

In 2020, examples of Repak Plastic Pledge Members successfully achieving these objectives are as follows:
•    Objective 1:  Prioritise the prevention of plastic packaging waste 
Danone removed unnecessary plastic such as plastic straws from specialised nutrition products. In doing so, the business took 40 million single use straws from circulation and avoided 19 tonnes of plastic going to landfill in the UK and Ireland.
•    Objective 2:  Support Ireland to deliver the Circular Economy Package’s plastic recycling targets 
In 2020 95.9% of the segregated plastic waste from Lidl Ireland’s premises was recycled.
•    Objective 3:  Reduce complexity in the plastic packaging supply chain 
Mannok stopped the production of all non-recyclable or difficult to recycle plastic products. Previously, the company had supplied 500 tonnes to the polystyrene and carbon black PET markets and last year, exited both. 
•    Objective 4:  Incorporate recycled content to build a circular economy 
In 2020 Britvic Ireland made a major step-change in this area by launching 100% rPET Ballygowan 500ml bottles. By switching to 100% rPET preforms for both Still & Sparkling Ballygowan 500ml, bottles this put the overall brand at 50% rPET content
•    Objective 5:  Ensure our approach aligns to the EPA’s Food Waste Charter 
Through Aldi’s relationship with Food Cloud, over 2.16 million meals have been donated to charities across Ireland. There are plans to expand the scope of store donations in 2021 and donate 7 days per week, giving charities more opportunities to collect product from Aldi stores, again reducing food waste at store level.  

For a full list of Plastic Pledge Member programmes completed in 2020 and programme plans for 2021, see the report here.