Waste workshops to explain recycling around the country

Autumn start for Government information campaign to combat widespread confusion

Households are to be advised on exactly what may be put into their recycling bins through more than 600 local workshops and the deployment of 500 “waste ambassadors”, beginning this autumn.

The campaign, run jointly by the State’s three waste regional authorities, has already begun with local and national radio advertisements on the proper use of food waste bins, at a cost of about €100,000.

In coming weeks the campaign will be intensified in a bid to address rising concern about penalties for leaving out contaminated household waste and end confusion among householders about what can be put in bins.

The regional waste authorities will launch a website by year’s end that will allow households to get information about the bin collectors in their area, and to see in clear terms what is acceptable to put in each bin.


The Southern Waste Region said the Connaught Ulster Region and the Midlands Eastern Region were acting jointly on the roll-out of the information campaign, which was funded by Government.

The campaign follows widespread concern that bin companies are using too much technical jargon, leaving householders confused about what can be recycled, or not.


– PET: stands for polyethylenes, which are the most widely used family of plastics in the world. Widely used in mineral water and soft drink bottles and acceptable in dry mixed recycling (usually green) bins. Bottles and other items stamped Pet 1, Pet 2 and Pet 5 are acceptable.

– HDPE: a dense, stronger and thicker form of of polyethylene. Typical uses are shampoo bottles, detergent, bleach and margarine tubs. These are acceptable in bins for dry mixed recyclables.

– LDPE: low-density polyethylenes, generally a thinner, more flexible form of of polyethylene. These are usually thin plastic films and most recycling companies do not want them in the dry mixed recycling bins, as they are very difficult to separate from paper.

– PP: Polypropylene is generally stiff and somewhat heat-resistant, so is often used for containers filled with hot food.Typically used in food containers for items such as ketchup, yogurt, cottage cheese, margarine, syrup, take-outs, medicine containers, straws, bottle caps and other opaque plastic containers, including baby bottles. These are acceptable.

All these materials should be washed and clean before being placed in the bin for dry mixed recyclables, according to the residual waste authorities.

Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten has said campaigns would be rolled out over the second half of 2017 addressing issues such as waste prevention, explaining how per-lift and weight-based charging models work and increasing and improving recycling.

However, Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on the environment, Timmy Dooley, said the time for the information campaign was last year, when the Government tried to introduce pay-by-weight the first time.

“We are disappointed that the campaign has not been more intensive and has resulted in widespread confusion,” he said. Mr Dooley said Mr Naughten should now move swiftly to ensure that households that were trying to avoid serious increases in their bin charges were told exactly what the rules were.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist