Press Release: Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge


Over 10,000 Tonnes of Plastic Waste Avoided Thanks to ‘Plastic Pledge’ – Minister Bruton

66 Industry leaders sign up to the Repak Plastics Pledge, eliminating 27,277 tonnes of C02 from the atmosphere.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton T.D. today (10th of May 2019) welcomed the success of the Repak ‘Plastic Pledge’ initiative, which will see over 10,600 tonnes of plastic packaging diverted from waste by the end of 2019.

The news is part of Repak’s first progress report on its ‘Plastic Pledge’. This is the first report on Repak Members’ plastic reduction, with work required for the coming years to reach our plastic recycling targets of 55% by 2030 (current target is 22.5% and Ireland currently recycles 36% of all plastics)

The pledge commits signatories to reducing plastic packaging waste and helping Ireland increase packaging recycling rates. The 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).

The first progress report shows that:

  • Businesses who signed the pledge reduced their plastic usage by an average of 11% in 2018
  • Signatories initiated over 120 separate programmes designed to make more plastic recyclable and reduce plastic use.
  • This will result in 10,600 less tonnes of plastic packaging going to waste in Ireland by the end of 2019.

The initiatives undertaken to reduce plastic include reducing plastic bottle weights, removing non-detectable black plastic trays from fruit and vegetable product lines, moving from non-recyclable to compostable packaging and innovative design modifications to make packaging more sustainable.

Launching Repak’s Plastic Pledge Report, Minister for the Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD said:

“We must encourage industry to put sustainability at the heart of their business. Today’s report shows the impact companies can have by taking the lead. I’m developing an all-encompassing government plan to step up Ireland’s response to climate change. Industry leadership will be important to achieving our objectives. I encourage more companies to follow the example set out by those early movers who have already signed up to the Repak Plastics Pledge.”

Repak’s Plastic Pledge asks signatories to:

  1. Prioritise the prevention of plastic packaging waste by minimising avoidable use packaging and promoting packaging reuse where possible.
  2. Support Ireland to deliver the Circular Economy Package plastic recycling targets of 50% of all plastics by 2025 and 55% of all plastic packaging by 2030, as set by the European Commission.
  3. Reduce complexity within the plastic packaging supply chain by simplifying polymer usage and eliminating non-recyclable components in all plastic packaging by 2030.
  4. Help to build a circular economy for used plastic packaging in Ireland and Europe by increasing the use of plastic packaging with a recycled content.
  5. 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.

Examples of Repak’s Plastic Pledge Member’s Commitments:

  1. Prioritise the prevention of plastic packaging waste by minimising avoidable use packaging and promoting packaging reuse where possible.

Britvic Ireland has reduced plastic bottle weights across a number of soft drink categories and in 2018 it reduced bottle weights on its Fruit Shoot range from 16 to 15 grams (6%) and 21 to 17 grams (15%). In addition it has reduced plastic in its 850ml cordial products from 38.5 to 37 grams (4%) and on 2 litre carbonated soft drink products from 43.5 to 43 grams (1%).

  1. Support Ireland to deliver the Circular Economy Package plastic recycling targets of 50% of all plastics by 2025 and 55% of all plastic packaging by 2030, as set by the European Commission.

This was a big focus for Musgrave Plc. during 2018 which resulted in the removal of 460 tonnes of non-detectable black plastic trays across 44 Fruit & Vegetable product lines. A further 11 tonnes of soft plastics have been removed across produce ranges, while 15 Organic product lines (SKUs) have moved from non-recyclable plastic to compostable packaging. At its distribution centres Musgrave also operates a one stop shop for waste management which is designed to maximise the segregation of packaging for recycling.

  1. Reduce complexity within the plastic packaging supply chain by simplifying polymer usage and eliminating non-recyclable components in all plastic packaging by 2030.

Aurivo Co-operative Society is currently investigating the elimination of PVC plastics from the supply chain and replacing these with easily recyclable or compostable alternatives.  During 2019 Aurivo plans to increase the recyclability of its current offering through design modifications. This focus on alternatives to PVC labels could result in 5 tonnes less plastic entering the market. Aurivo also plans to investigate non-colour lids on milk bottles to enhance the quality of HDPE recyclate.

  1. Help to build a circular economy for used plastic packaging in Ireland and Europe by increasing the use of plastic packaging with a recycled content.

In 2018 Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland Ltd. celebrated the achievement that Ribena had been using 100% recycled plastic in its bottles for over ten years. Lucozade added communication around this to the front of its packaging and used social channels to drive awareness and encourage consumers to keep the recycling loop going. Under the UK Plastics Pact the business has already committed to using 30% recycled content across its product range and has already achieved 25% with its Ribena brand. During 2019 Lucozade Sport will move to 30% rPET, increasing overall usage further.

  1. 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.

Aldi Stores Ireland is a signatory to Ireland’s Food Waste Charter. Aldi is also partnered with FoodCloud and to date has donated over 1.5 million meals (almost 640 tonnes of surplus food) to charities across Ireland. As part of this initiative, Aldi also produces consumer leaflets with tips on reducing food waste at home.  A number of Aldi’s suppliers are currently carrying out shelf life tests to ensure that the quality of product is maintained. Trials to move to single polymer cheese packs has the potential to increase the recyclability of the packaging but shelf life testing must confirm that shelf life can be maintained. The durability of plastics is also one of their main benefits. Aldi is currently investigating if larger pulp egg boxes can be used to replace the plastic currently used for larger egg packs.

Speaking on the success of the inaugural year for Repak’s Plastic Pledge and the work done by the 66 signatories, CEO of Repak, Seamus Clancy said: “How we use and dispose of plastic has become one of the environmental challenges of our time and of principal concern to the future of Ireland’s standing as one of Europe’s top recycling nations. That is why, today, I am delighted to announce that the 66 signatories of Repak’s Plastic Pledge are taking significant steps to reduce plastic packaging waste by more than 10,600 tonnes this year. The tangible results from this report clearly show that societal concerns on how we use plastic and the effects it can have on our environment are sparking positive change in the mind-set of businesses in Ireland.”