Online retail giants creating costly waste, says Repak

Likes of Amazon paying nothing towards recycling of wrapping waste, says State body

Repak chief executive Séamus Clancy says waste wrapping from online deliveries has to be “collected, gathered and recycled” which leaves Repak members paying approximately €500,000. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Repak chief executive Séamus Clancy says waste wrapping from online deliveries has to be “collected, gathered and recycled” which leaves Repak members paying approximately €500,000. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

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Online shopping will create a 7,500 tonne waste mountain in Ireland this year, but Amazon and other online retail giants do not pay any of the recycling bill , Repak, the State’s leading recycling body has complained.

The waste is equal to the total produced annually by the town of Killarney and is like to grow significantly in coming years as online shopping becomes more popular.

Warning that the growth of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions comes at an environmental costs, Repak said online packaging waste is growing by 28 per cent a year.

Repak has accused online retailers such as Amazon of “using a loophole in the law to avoid spending a penny towards the cost of recycling the packaging they deliver to Irish households”.

‘Abuse of system’

Saying that Irish-based retailers are paying the bill left by online retailers, Repak chief executive Séamus Clancy said it “amounts to an abuse of the Irish recycling system”.

Mr Clancy said the waste has to be “collected, gathered and recycled”, which leaves Repak members paying approximately €500,000. He urged the Government to respond.

International retailers “do not pay a penny”, he said, adding that Amazon and other online giants enjoy an unfair advantage over Irish companies who pay recycling contributions.

“Unlike Repak members, these companies have no incentive to reduce the waste they generate. Irish companies pay a fee based on how much packaging they produce. These companies are outside the system and they are exploiting it,” he said.

“It is grossly unfair and is distorting competition between Irish retailers and international online retailers. They are ignoring any corporate social responsibility and, in this instance, it is not the polluter that pays.” Mr Clancy called on the Department of the Environment to intervene “to ensure there is fairness in the retail sector”.

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