Ireland to miss EU plastic recycling targets, says recycling body Repak

Options ‘exhausted’ to recover €1.2m in overcharged subsidies from operator, says Repak

Ireland is on course to miss EU targets mandating that half of all plastic waste produced in the State must be recycled by 2025, industry-funded recycling body Repak has said. However, the non-profit, which helps businesses to recycle their waste, said on Thursday that it exceeded all of its EU targets for recycling in each category last year but said that meeting the 2025 goal will be challenging.

In its 2022 annual report, the company also noted that one waste recovery operator had overclaimed subsidies from Repak to a value of €1.2 million. While the operator is not named in the report, it is understood to be Cloughwater Plastics Ireland Limited, a joint venture between the Netherlands-based Van Werven Group and Cloughwater Enterprises Limited, which is situated in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, two creditors of Cloughwater, who claimed they were owed €2.3 million by the plastics firm, petitioned the High Court to have the company wound up. The court also heard in February that the company has significant dealings with Repak. Separately, the company allegedly overcharged Repak and owes it more than €562,000, counsel said, adding that that figure could increase by an additional €600,000.

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The winding-up petition was subsequently withdrawn after matters were resolved out of court.


In its annual report, Repak said that the unnamed recovery operator “accepts an overclaim has occurred and has provided a credit note confirming this”. However, it said: “Repak has exhausted all available options to recover the subsidies overclaimed. The matter is now in the hands of the relevant enforcement authorities.”

Overall, Repak said that 104,012 tonnes of plastic was recycled in 2022, an 8 per cent increase from 2021 and surpassing 100,000 tonnes mark for the first time ever.

Glass recovered

The company, which is funded by member fees paid by recovery operators, invested €32.8 million in recycling and recovery in 2022, an increase of 15 per cent from the previous year.

Repak recycled 85 per cent of glass recovered in the year, above the EU target of 60 per cent while at 75 per cent, the rate of cardboard and paper recycling was also above the 60 per cent target. The recycling rates for wood and metal also surpassed the respective EU targets for each.

At 33 per cent, however, the rate of plastics recycling — while above the current EU target rate of 22.5 per cent — is unlikely to reach the 2025 target of 50 per cent, said Repak.

Meeting that goal will be “challenging”, said Repak chief executive Seamus Clancy who urged operators and business generally to “redouble efforts” to achieve 2025 and 2030 recycling targets.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times