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Recycling Tips and FAQs

Confused or have a question? Repak has your answer and much more! Check out some of our top recycling tips and FAQs. Let's start with the basics!

Recycling hacks 

Our recycling hack videos will give you quick tips and tricks you can use at home when it comes to recycling.

Why is clean, dry & loose important?
Why is clean, dry & loose important?
What about labels and lids?
What about labels and lids?
How do I recycle my cleaning products?
How do I recycle my cleaning products?
How do I recycle my beauty products?
How do I recycle my beauty products?
How do I recycle takeaway packaging?
How do I recycle takeaway packaging?
Recycling from your bathroom
Recycling from your bathroom
Recycling your glass bottles and jars
Recycling your glass bottles and jars
Recycling your plastic tubs and trays
Recycling your plastic tubs and trays
Recycling your paper & tinfoil
Recycling your paper & tinfoil
Recycling your bottles, tins & cans
Recycling your bottles, tins & cans
What plastics can go in the recycling bin?

Currently, only rigid (hard) plastics can go in the household recycling bin – soft plastics (that you can scrunch in your hand) must go in the general waste bin. There are a wide range of rigid plastics you can recycle, including: plastic bottles from milk, water and beverages; plastic tubs, containers and food trays; yogurt pots; soap, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles. Remember also to recycle your plastics at school, work and when out and about. You can find a full list on our ‘What can I recycle?’ page. Please place items in your recycling bin - clean, dry and loose.

What does rigid plastic mean?

A rigid plastic is any type of plastic that does not lose its shape. Rigid plastics should go in your household recycling bin. There are wide range of rigid plastics you can recycle, including: plastic bottles from milk, water and beverages; plastic tubs, containers and food trays; yogurt pots; soap, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles. You can find a full list on our ‘What can I recycle?’ page. Please remember to place items in your recycling bin - clean, dry and loose.

Can I recycle soft plastics?

Soft plastics are not currently accepted in household recycling bins and must be placed in your general waste bin. Soft plastics are plastics you can scrunch in your hand, such as plastic bags and plastic film (such as, for example, the wrapping around a pack of toilet rolls, the film lid on a tray of meat, or cling film). Some recycling centres (civic amenity sites) will accept clean plastic bags and film – you can see a full list of these facilities on MyWaste.ie

What are dry recyclables and what bin do I put them in?

‘Dry recyclables’ is a term used to describe all the items that can go in your household recycling bin, including paper and cardboard, rigid plastics, and metallic packaging (cans, tins and foil). You can find a full list on our ‘What can I recycle?’ page. Please remember to place items in your recycling bin - clean, dry and loose.

Can I place plastic bags in my household recycling bin?

You should only put the accepted list of recyclables in your recycling bin – clean, dry and loose. Please ensure that these recyclables are not wet, dirty or soiled with food, as this will contaminate the paper and other materials in your recycling bin. The items that should never go in your recycling bin include: food waste, soft plastic, clothes, bags of ash, glass, nappies, wipes, soiled kitchen roll, garden waste, batteries, electrical items, and so on. Please see the full list of recycling contaminants.

What condition does the recyclable packaging need to be in?

The first and most important rule of good recycling, is to place recyclables in your household bin clean, dry and loose. This means there should be no food or liquids left on your recyclable items (as these will contaminate the paper and cardboard in your bin), and you should place all the items loosely in the bin and not in plastic bags. When placing items loosely in the recycling bin, please separate the items and don’t put one into another. For example, take the plastic packaging out of a cardboard box before you recycle packaging from a gift or small electrical item. You should also open out and flatten cardboard boxes if possible and squash bottles to give you more space in your recycling bin. Please leave lids and labels on plastic bottles. With paper and cardboard, there is no need to tear the item up, it will be picked up more effectively in the recycling plant in large pieces (and you should not put shredded paper in your recycling bin as the pieces are too small).

Why do my items have to be clean, dry and loose?

There is a good logic behind the request for your items to be placed in the recycling bin clean, dry and loose. If you think about what is going into your recycling bin, any moisture or leftover food will contaminate the paper and cardboard and make it unacceptable for recycling. Food will also attract vermin to your bin and to the recycling centre and will cause odours. In fact, your contaminated bin could also contaminate your neighbours clean items in the bin lorry. When rinsing items for recycling, we ask you not to waste water. In the kitchen, use water you are using to rinse dishes for example, and in the bathroom, empty shampoo or shower gel bottles and close the lids before recycling. There is no need to rinse out toiletry and cleaning product bottles, just ensure the lids are closed to prevent any spillage. The are many reasons why you are asked to place items in the bin loosely. Firstly, soft plastics should not go in your recycling bin, these must currently go in your general waste bin. Secondly, the items must be loose so that the machinery and human hands at the recycling facility can easily sort the waste into the different materials: plastic, paper, aluminium, steel and cardboard. Plastic bags make the sorting process much more difficult and can get caught in machinery at the recycling plant. You will also fit a lot more items in your recycling bin if they are loose!

How dry do items have to be before I put them into the recycling bin?

Items need to be dry enough to prevent them making paper and cardboard in your recycling bin soggy. Most people rinse items and let them drip / air dry, before placing in the bin when they are dry.

Where do the recyclables go after being collected?

The waste from your recycling bin is brought to one of the many recycling facilities around the country where it is sorted out both by staff and machinery. The materials are separated into groups of plastic, paper, aluminium, steel and cardboard. The materials are baled, and then redistributed to specialist companies who reuse these materials to create new raw materials for packaging and other products.

Can I put the metal lids of jam jars and other glass jars into my recycling bin?

Yes, you can place the steel lids from jam and other glass jars in your household recycling bin. Or, if you like, you can put the lid back on the glass jar to deposit at your local bottle bank, where it can also be recycled. Please just make sure any lids recycled are clean and dry. You can also recycle other metallic items such as food tins, beverage cans, biscuit tins, aluminium trays and beer bottle lids. Metals are very easy to recycle as they are detected at the recycling facility by large magnets.

Can I recycle glass bottles?

Yes. Glass bottles and jars are very easily recycled and can be brought to your local bring/bottle bank or recycling centre. You can see a full list of these nationwide facilities on MyWaste.ie Some waste contractors will accept glass in household recycling bins – please check with your bin collector.

Can I recycle my glass perfume bottles?

Yes, you can recycle most glass perfume bottles, depending on the colour of the glass. If the glass is clear, green, brown or blue it can go into the relevant bottle bank. You can leave the spray pump and lid on as these will get crushed and sorted out in the recycling process. Any blue bottles can go into the green glass bank. Frosted bottles can go in the clear bottle bank. Any other colours (pink, red etc) can go into the brown glass bank.

Do I have to take lids and labels off of my plastic bottles?

No, you should leave the lids and labels on your plastic beverage bottles or any toiletry or detergent bottles you place in the household recycling bin. Just make sure that bottles are clean and dry. You can also squash bottles to make more space in your recycling bin.

Can napkins / serviettes / kitchen roll go in my recycling bin?

You can place clean, dry paper napkins and paper towels in recycling bin, however why not reuse them first to dry your recyclables or for cleaning? If kitchen paper or napkins are wet or soiled with food, you can place them in your compost bin, but if you have used them with chemical cleaning agents, please dispose of them in the general waste bin.

Can I recycle crisps or sweet wrapper?

No. Unfortunately crisp and sweet wrappers are made from soft plastic or a mix of materials, and must be disposed of in your general waste bin.

Can I recycle tinfoil (aluminium foil)?

Yes – if it is clean. You can recycle clean tinfoil (such as a piece used to cover dry leftover food) by scrunching it into a ball before putting it in the recycling bin. If tinfoil is soiled it must go in your general waste bin.

Can I recycle books?

Yes, if you cannot reuse books by passing them on to others or donating them to a charity shop, you can place them in your household recycling bin, as they are made of paper.

Can I recycle newspapers and magazines?

Yes, newspapers and magazines are made from paper so you can place these in your household recycling bin.

Can I put polystyrene in my recycling bin?

No. You should not put polystyrene in your recycling bin. It should go in your general waste bin or alternatively you can bring it to a supporting recycling centre (civic amenity site) free of charge. You can find a full list of these facilities on MyWaste.ie

I have too much material for collection every two weeks. What can I do?

You can ask your waste contractor for a second recycling bin, which is provided at a minimal charge. Or you can look at ways to fit more items in your recycling bin. Are you placing items loosely in the bin? Are you squashing cardboard boxes and plastic bottles? Are you making sure that only the correct materials go in your recycling bin?

What do I do with electrical / battery items, bulbs or batteries?

You should not place any electrical items, batteries or bulbs in your household recycling bin or your general waste bin. These can all be disposed of, free of charge, at recycling centres (civic amenity sites) all over Ireland, as well as at many retail outlets. You can find more details on WEEE Ireland website or on MyWaste.ie

Are tetra pack cartons recyclable?

Yes, tetra packs are recyclable and they should be placed in the recycling bin clean, dry and loose. You can leave the lid on and squash the pack to compact it in your bin.

Can I recycle my takeaway packaging?

Yes, you can recycle a lot of your takeaway packaging, for example, plastic tubs, lids and aluminium trays, once they are clean, dry and loose. You can also recycle pizza boxes. If you get a takeaway pizza and the box is not heavily soiled (with grease for example) you can place it in your recycling bin. However if the box has a lot of food residue on it, you should put it in your compost bin.

Is rigid black plastic recyclable?

Yes, rigid black plastic (such as used for meat trays or trays of biscuits) is recyclable and should be placed loosely in the household recycling bin once it is clean and dry.

Can I recycle my soap bottles?

Yes, you can recycle the plastic bottle element of the packaging but you should not place the dispenser in your recycling bin as it has a metal spring that cannot be recycled at the recycling facility. Many manufacturers are now making refills for these bottles, so that you can reuse the dispenser many times. If you have to dispose of the dispenser, please place it in your general waste bin.

Are medicine bottles recyclable?

Yes, these are made of rigid plastic or glass and you can place them in your household recycling bin. You can also leave the lids/caps on the bottles. Remember to make sure that they are placed in your recycling bin clean, dry and loose.

I heard not all wrapping paper is recyclable, how do I check if it is?

Most wrapping paper is made from light card or printed paper. However shiny or metallic gift-wrap is made of plastic film. You can place normal (paper based) wrapping paper in your household recycling bin, but shiny or metallic gift-wrap must go in your general waste. There are a couple of simple ways you can tell if wrapping paper is made only from paper – firstly, you will be able to tear it by hand, and secondly, you can scrunch it into a ball and it will stay scrunched. Gift wrap made from plastic will not tear by hand (you will need a scissors) and if scrunched will pop back out. Also remember that any bows or ribbons used as decoration on gifts are usually made of plastic and these cannot be recycled and must go in your general waste bin.

Can I put bubble wrap in my recycling bin?

Bubble wrap is considered a soft plastic and is currently not accepted in your household recycling bin. You may be able to reuse bubble wrap for sending items by post, or packing away items for storage. If you have a large amount to dispose of, your local recycling centre (civic amenity site) may accept it. You can find a full list of these facilities on MyWaste.ie

Do I have to take the labels off bottles and tins before recycling them?

No, you don’t have to remove any labels on tins or bottles before placing them in the household recycling bin. The labels will be removed as part of the recycling process when the materials arrive at the recycling facility. Please make sure you place all the items in your recycling bin – clean, dry and loose.

I want to do more recycling in a school or local group, how can you help, do you provide bins?

We have developed a primary schools programme called 'Team Green for Schools’ which offers a range of resources to help teachers educate children on recycling in and outside of the classroom. You can download these materials for free in English and Irish. You can also join our Team Green campaign and pledge to reduce, reuse and recycle better. Repak does not offer bins – these can be arranged through your waste operator.

Can I recycle my clothes?

Yes, but you must bring these to a local charity shop or clothes bank. You should never dispose of clothes in your household recycling or general waste bin. If you cannot reuse items, drop the best items into a local charity shop and dispose of other items at your local clothes bank. Many clubs and schools also hold fundraising collections of used clothes and shoes, so this may be another option for you.

What are local authorities and what are they responsible for?

Local authorities are multi-purpose bodies responsible for delivering a broad range of services in relation to: roads; traffic; planning; housing; economic and community development; environment, recreation and amenity services; fire services and maintaining the register of electors.

Where is my local bring centre / bottle bank

You can find your local bring centre, bottle bank or recycling centre (civic amenity site) by checking the waste service locator on MyWaste.ie

How can I get a bottle bank in my area?

If you would like a bottle bank in your local area you must approach your local county council. Repak funds bottle banks throughout Ireland but we do not supply them.

My local bottle bank is full, can you empty it?

If your bottle bank is full, you should report this to your local county council who will arrange to have it emptied by the relevant recovery operator.

What is the Green Dot?

The Green Dot is a European trademark that producers and suppliers add to their packaging to show consumers that they have contributed financially to the recycling of packaging they place on the market, by joining a scheme such as Repak. Please note that use of the symbol on packaging does not mean that the packaging is fully recyclable. Repak is the sole registered licensor of the Green Dot trademark for the Republic of Ireland under a legal agreement entered into with Pro Europe s.a.r.l.

I saw a green dot symbol on packaging in my local supermarket – what does this symbol mean?

The Green Dot is a European trademark that producers and suppliers add to their packaging to show consumers that they have contributed financially to the recycling of packaging they place on the market, by joining a scheme such as Repak. The Green Dot is not in itself a recycling symbol nor does it mean that the packaging material on which it is marked is either recycled, or made using recyclable content. It is more a mark of the producer’s environmental responsibility and contribution to the cost of recycling the packaging they place on the market.

In my supermarket I saw a sign saying that as a member of Repak, the store does not have to take back packaging for recycling – why is this?

Repak is a producer responsibility scheme that funds packaging recycling, through fees received from our members, for example, supermarkets. The membership fees our members pay are based on the amount and type of packaging they place on the Irish market. We use these fees to fund household recycling bins, bottle banks and recycling centres nationwide. Essentially, every Repak member is funding the recycling infrastructure in Ireland, including your household recycling bin. Under this system, you are expected to place your recyclable packaging in your household recycling bin and Repak members are not obliged to take it back in store.

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