Press Release: Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project wins top national environmental award at 2019 Pakman Awards

  • Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project (Athchursail Árann) awarded the overall 2019 Pakman Award for its work transforming the waste management and recycling infrastructure on the Aran Islands
  • Coca Cola, BuJo, RTÉ, University College Cork, Thorntons Recycling and Castletroy College were also amongst the winners

25th October 2019: The Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project (Athchursail Árann) was last night awarded the top prize at the 2019 Pakman Awards, the Overall Pakman Award, for its innovative and exceptional work transforming the waste management and recycling infrastructure on the Aran Islands, which have Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) status under the EU Natural Habitats Directive.

The awards ceremony, which took place at the InterContinental Dublin Hotel, saw 400 representatives from leading businesses, organisations and community groups come together to recognise excellence in recycling and waste management. All 14 category winners on the night were automatically put forward for the overall Pakman Award, won by Athchursail Árann.

About Athchursail Árann

Over the last 20 years, the Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project has successfully transformed the waste management and recycling infrastructure on the Aran Islands by eliminating three landfill sites on the islands and creating a community-run kerbside recycling system for both dry packaging and compost. As part of the recycling project, dry recyclables are baled and sent to Galway; food and organics are composted; and residual waste is examined for reuse projects. Reuse projects on the islands include glass being crushed for use as aggregates for concrete; timber being shredded to go into compost; and bulky items, such as old windows, being stored for reuse on agricultural and garden sheds. The Galway Island organisation also won the ‘Community Recycling Initiative’ category on the night.

Presenting the final award Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, T.D. said: “As set out in the Climate Action Plan, managing our resources efficiently is crucial as we move towards a more sustainable, resilient society. We must step up – 70% of food waste is avoidable, half of the material we use is not being segregated properly, two thirds of plastic used is not on the recycling list and labels are confusing. Under the Climate Action Plan, we will end the use of non-recyclable plastic, halve food waste, ban a number of single-use plastics and cut dependence on landfill by 60%.


The businesses, community groups and organisations being recognised here tonight have shown the impact we can have through careful use of resources. They have set an example for others to follow and I’d encourage others to follow their lead and take action. In particular, I would of course like to extend a special congratulations to Athchursail Árann who have had a transformative impact on the Aran Islands.”


Coca Cola won the inaugural ‘Repak Plastic Pledge Member of the Year’ category. The new category was open to any of over 90 Repak members who have signed the Plastic Pledge, committing to achieve specific objectives relating to reducing plastic packaging and increasing the recyclability of packaging. Coca Cola topped the category by demonstrating its outstanding commitment to these objectives, including becoming the first water brand in Ireland to introduce 100% recyclable bottles, reducing plastic levels in all bottles by 7.5%, achieving 40% recycled PET integration across its plastic portfolio, and investing significantly in PET recycling facilities.


Castletroy College in Limerick was also a big winner on the night, picking up two awards: ‘The Environmental Education and Awareness Initiative’ award and ‘Battery Champion’. Teachers at the 1,200-pupil school in Limerick successfully integrated high quality educational material into their Junior Cycle curriculum to raise awareness of the circular economy and the importance of recycling e-waste. Thanks to this programme, in 2019 the school collected 10,715kg of WEEE, collected and reused 68.5kgs of electronics, and was placed 1st in the European wide EIT KIC Raw Materials School Competition.


University College Cork (UCC) won the ‘Innovation in Waste Resource Products or Services’ award, sponsored by Ibec, and will now be considered for entry into the 2020 European Business Awards for the Environment. Should UCC be nominated for the European award, it will represent Ireland at Europe’s premier awards programme for sustainable businesses.

Other winners on the night included Burger-Joint, Bujo in Dublin, picking up the ‘Food Waste Management’ for its exemplary recycling of 95% of its food waste to energy and various other innovative initiatives; RTÉ, for the ‘Business Recycling Champion’ award; and Dillion Waste for the ‘Green Transport of the Year’ award.

Speaking at the Pakman Awards, Seamus Clancy, CEO of Repak said:

“Tonight, we celebrate those who have demonstrated excellence in recycling and waste management from a wide variety of companies, communities and industries across Ireland. The Pakman Awards highlight the importance of continually striving to improve environmental performance and provide a benchmark for others to follow.”

“We live in an era when recycling and waste management are of paramount importance to the public, businesses, the Irish government and the EU. The world’s attention is now focused on the health of our ecosystem, what we can do to reverse climate change, and how we can minimise our environmental impact. The winners and nominees in the 2019 Pakman Awards are some our nation’s best examples of the great work being done to tackle these issues.  They have evolved to not only meet the new expectations placed on them by society and government, but they are setting the standards both nationally and internationally on what excellence in waste management and recycling looks like in 2019. If Ireland is to reach its future EU recycling targets, it is crucial that we continue to collectively support such initiatives and promote positive behavioural change in Ireland.”

 “This year, we had a record 137 entries, the highest number ever submitted to the Pakman Awards and, more importantly, the standard has been exceptional.  I would like to commend all the winners and nominees for their fantastic work, with particular congratulations to the Athchursail Árann as the recipient of the 2019 Overall Pakman Award.”


The full list of nominees and winners is as follows:




2019 Overall Pakman Award

All 14 category winners

Athchursail Árann




Castletroy College

Aldi Stores Ireland Limited

Castletroy College



Ryans Cleaning

Raidió Teilifís Éireann

AIB Group

Aldi Stores Ireland Limited

Raidió Teilifís Éireann



The Rediscovery Centre

Athchursail Árann


Athchursail Árann



Pure Project

Castletroy College

Sligo County Council


Castletroy College



FoodSpace Ireland


Hotel Doolin



Nolan Transport

Dillon Waste


Dillon Waste



Refill Ireland

University College Cork

NVP Energy

University College Cork



Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland

Lidl Ireland GmBH

Quinn Packaging



Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland



Continental Tyre Group

A Plus Service Centre


A Plus Service Centre



Hotel Doolin

Java Republic

University College Cork

Hotel Doolin



Thorntons Recycling

Clean Ireland Recycling

ROC Recycling Solutions Ltd.

Thorntons Recycling



KWD Recycling

Clean Ireland Recycling

Thorntons Recycling

Clean Ireland Recycling



Forge Hill Recycling

Leinster Environmentals

Irish Packaging Recycling

Dillon Waste

Irish Packaging Recycling



Joe Bonner

Recycle IT

Castletroy College

Recycle IT


To find out more information about the Pakman Awards 2019 visit or @PakmanAwards on Twitter.


Media contacts

Saoirse Whelan/ Niamh O’Brien / Cormac Coughlan

Teneo / /

087 9543089 / 087 9318420/ 086 4144329

About Repak:

  • Repak is a not for profit established in 1997. Repak was created by Ireland’s recycling industry to help companies meet their legal obligation with packaging legislation.
  • Repak’s members, over 3,300, are producers of packaging and the threshold is any company who places more than 10 tonnes of packaging onto the Irish market with a turnover of €1 million in the calendar year.
  • In two decades, over €425m has invested through Repak by its members to fund the recycling and recovery of packaging waste.
  • Repak fees are based on a pay-as-you-produce basis i.e. the more packaging placed on the market by a producer, the higher their fee. The fees paid to Repak by its members are used to subsidise the collection and recovery of waste packaging through registered recovery operators (the people who come and collect your rubbish for sorting and separation) across Ireland, so that the individual member companies are exempt from this requirement.
  • Repak is approved under licence by the Government to operate as a compliance scheme for packaging recycling.
  • Since Repak was set up in 1997 packaging recycling and recovery in Ireland has grown from a very low base, under 15% to an estimated 93% in 2018. Ireland is now one of the leading recycling countries in the EU for packaging recycling.
  • Repak has recycling targets set out by the Department for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment and the EU and has achieved and surpassed this year on year since its establishment.

About Repak’s plastic pledge:

Repak Members are committed to reducing plastic packaging waste and helping Ireland to play its part in achieving the key goals set out within the EU Circular Economy Package.  Over 90 of our Member companies have signed the Plastic Packaging Pledge, committing to work with all stakeholders including our suppliers, customers and the public to achieve the following objectives. On May 10th 2019 we launched the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD.


Members who sign the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge commit to five key objectives.


  • Prioritise the prevention of plastic packaging waste by minimising avoidable single use packaging and promoting packaging reuse where possible.
  • Support Ireland to deliver the Circular Economy Packageplastic recycling targets of 50% of all plastics by 2025 and 55% of all plastic packaging by 2030, as set by the European Commission.
  • Reduce complexity within the plastic packaging supply chain by simplifying polymer usage and eliminating non-recyclable components in all plastic packaging by 2030.
  • Help to build a circular economyfor used plastic packaging in Ireland and Europe by increasing the use of plastic packaging with a recycled content.
  • Ensure our approach to plastic packaging reduction is aligned to Ireland‘s goal of a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 as set out in Ireland’s food waste charter.


Pakman Awards 2019 – winner’s details:

Overall Pakman Award 2019, sponsored by Repak and Community Recycling Initiative, sponsored by Enviroguide Consulting: Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project (Athchursail Árann)


Comharchumann Forbartha Árann, the Aran Islands Co-operative, this year celebrated 20 years of a unique rural kerbside project which is reusing and recycling 58.4% of household and commercial waste on the Aran Islands – set up many years before any other similar scheme nationally in urban or rural areas. Glass, paper and food waste is recycled and reused on the island as aggregate and compost respectively. Other packaging materials are sent to Galway together with the 42% residual waste. This project was entirely set up and led by the local community co-op based in Kilronan.


The Battery Champion Award sponsored by European Recycling Platform and Environmental Education and Awareness Initiative Sponsored by the Department of Communications Climate Action & Environment: Castletroy College

Castletroy College for their WEEE Champion entry, undertook a WEEE collection day took place on Saturday 2nd March where over 11.1 tonnes of WEEE was dropped off by 411 vehicles at Castletroy College. The majority of the WEEE was sent for recycling with 68.5 kgs getting refurbished for reuse.

The E-Mining@School team of 7 students promoted the event with articles in The Limerick Leader, an interview on Limerick Live 95 FM, a social media campaign and with posters and information packs which were distributed widely within the community and local primary schools.  Due to the success of the event it will be repeated on an annual basis.

Castletroy College’s Battery Champion entry showcased the major emphasis placed on batteries and sustainability by the college. Lessons on smartphone batteries were threaded across several subjects such as science lessons on critical raw materials in batteries and battery charging, a geography case study on mining for cobalt in Democratic Republic of the Congo, and technology lessons on how to replace batteries in smartphones which involved doing a smartphone teardown. The project culminated in a WEEE collection event, resulting in the collection of 324 kg of batteries.


The Business Recycling Champion, sponsored by Arthur Cox: Raidió Teilifís Éireann

RTÉ takes its commitments to sustainability seriously and these are enshrined in its environmental policy and action plan.  These commitments are based on the general principles of business sustainability and elimination of all waste.


The Food Waste Management Award, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency: BuJo

BuJo is a neighbourhood burger joint in Sandymount specialising in chargrilled burgers using a custom blend of 100% Irish, grass fed beef raised on Irish family farms. The menu is overseen by Culinary Director & Michelin Bib Gourmand Chef Gráinne O’Keefe, (recently awarded Best Chef Under 30 by Food & Wine Ireland). BuJo is the only burger focussed restaurant in Ireland & the UK to hold a 3 Star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association & was the winner in Dublin City Council’s ‘City Neighbourhood Awards 2018’ for ‘Best Waste Management Initiative’ & ‘Overall Best Business’.


The Green Transport of the Year Award, sponsored by AMCS Resource Technology: Dillon Waste

Dillon Waste is a family run waste management company based in Tralee, Co. Kerry, established over 50 years ago by Garry Dillon. For their entry, Dillon Waste focused on three key projects which have delivered sustainable results in the last 18 months. These include a patented bin lifter for lifting MMW & MDR bins, an interchangeable Ro/Ro & REL truck, and an extendable skip floor mechanism. As a waste recycling organisation, they have constantly adapted to the changing global markets by designing and constructing innovative solutions to maximize the recovery of recyclable material. In 2018, 92% of all material received by Dillon Waste was either recycled or sent for energy recovery.


The Innovation in Waste Resource Products or Services, sponsored by IBEC: University College Cork

In September 2018, UCC Green Campus Committee, in collaboration with KSG officially launched the Bio Green Café, Ireland’s first single-use plastic free café.   The move followed 2017’s ban on disposable cups in the University’s Boole Library building and KSG’s agreement to offer discounts to staff and students using reusable cups.  It coincided with the UCC Student Union obtaining funding from the Southern Region Waste Management Office to give a free reusable cup to all incoming first year students.


The Plastic Pledge Member of the Year Award, sponsored by Repak: Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland

Through its World Without Waste strategy, Coca-Cola HBC has demonstrated true leadership in packaging sustainability. Having launched its first 100% recycled PET portfolio for Deep RiverRock, the company now integrates 40% rPET across its entire portfolio, eliminating 5k tonnes of virgin PET annually.

Coca-Cola also aims to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells by 2030, and has partnered with Repak’s Team Green, customers, local authorities and NGOs to improve on-the-go collection and will play a key role in achieving national recycling targets by 2030.

The Tyre Champion Award, sponsored by RepakELT: A Plus Service Centre

A Plus Service Centre are advocates for tyre recycling in ways including volunteering to assist Repak ELT in surveys and data collection. All of their media posts send the same consistent message: always deal with a registered and approved tyre fitter that recycles their waste tyres properly.

A Plus Service Centre ran their own annual weekend tyre road show at Tesco in Bray, highlighting safety and recycling for many years.


The Waste Prevention Business Award, sponsored by CIWM: Hotel Doolin

Hotel Doolin served 294,583 meals in 2018 and as a result, prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery and disposal are all key factors in the Hotels’ waste prevention programme. No single-use plastics are used, and the hotel has banned the sale of plastic beverage containers in every outlet. They encourage their suppliers to reduce waste at source.


The Waste Recovery Operator of the Year – Commercial Award, sponsored by Irish Waste Management Association: Thorntons Recycling

Thorntons Recycling offers its Commercial Clients a “one stop shop solution” for Waste Management & Recycling Services. Daily they service over 5,500 commercial clients in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. Waste reduction is to the forefront of their ethos and underpinned by their message to clients of “recycle more and pay less”.

With and investment of over €50m in Recycling facilities all materials are processed to ensure maximum recycling and recovery. They strive to forge “partnerships with their clients, consulting with them to achieve recycling & recovery targets to be proud of”.


The Waste Recovery Operator of the Year – Household Award, sponsored by Irish Waste Management Association: Clean Ireland Recycling

Clean Ireland Recycling has grown to a multi-million-euro enterprise, employing approximately 100 people, operating two waste transfer facilities, and running four customer service centres.  Clean Ireland Recycling’s success is built on a strong reputation for providing environmentally aware, compliant, and value-for-money services.


The Waste Recycling & Facility of the Year Award, sponsored by Repak: Irish Packaging Recycling

Irish Packaging Recycling (IPR) is the largest recycling operation in Ireland and is part of Beauparc, a diverse group of companies that includes power generation, power sales, resource recovery and recycling. They work with their commercial customers to review waste sources and separate significant portions of waste into clean recyclable product, often providing revenue to the business.

In 2019 they completed an upgrade which recovered an additional 2,600 tonnes per week of plastic film for recycling.


The WEEE Champion Award, sponsored by WEEE Ireland: Recycle IT

Recycle IT is an eco-friendly, needs-driven initiative, recycling all types of waste electrical, electronic and metal equipment. Collection and drop off services are provided to homes, communities, educators, and charities at no charge. Sustainability is built on good relationships, offering excellent service and providing people with real help when recycling.

Recycle IT’s service offering is reinforced through their stakeholders, promotional activities, community events, website, blog posts, social media and by gaining positive recognition from the communities they serve.