Play your part in Repak's Team Green
With ambitious new plastic recycling targets coming down the line, we all need to play our part in making Ireland a world leader for plastic packaging recycling
Since Repak was set up in 1997, Repak members have helped fund the diversion of 10.1 million tonnes of packaging waste, which before 1997 would have gone to landfill.
We have been a nation of enthusiastic recyclers since 1997, when Ireland’s packaging recycling compliance scheme, Repak, was established. We have over-achieved on every recycling target set out for us over the last 20 years. However, with ambitious new plastic recycling targets coming down the line, we all need to play our part in making Ireland a world leader for plastic packaging recycling. If everyone in Ireland recycled just one additional piece of plastic each week, we would recycle 250 million more pieces of plastic a year.
What is Repak?
Repak is a not for profit organisation set up by Irish businesses to ensure obligated producers and sellers of packaging are responsible for where that packaging ends up. These businesses, or Repak members, subsidise the collection and recycling of our recycling bins with Repak’s help.
The contribution paid to Repak by its members is used to fund the collection and recovery of waste packaging through registered recovery operators (the people who come and collect your rubbish for sorting and separation) across Ireland.
Since Repak was set up in 1997, Repak members have helped fund the diversion of 10.9 million tonnes of packaging waste, which before 1997 would have gone to landfill. In fact, 20 years ago Ireland had 126 landfill sites. Today, thanks to Ireland’s commitment to the environment, there are just three.
Why we need to recycle at work
Most of us routinely segregate our waste at home but not all of us are in the habit at work. If everyone took the same approach to recycling at work as they do at home it would make an enormous difference.
Very often our school children lead the way. Repak’s Recycle and Change for the Better School Programme is undertaken by primary schools across the country, to encourage and promote recycling from a young age, and to use children’s ‘pester power’ for all our good by reminding parents to recycle.
Why Ireland is good at waste management
Ireland has much to be proud of in relation to recycling. Ireland ranks the 6th highest country in the EU for recycling and recovery, currently achieving 91 per cent recycling and recovery of all packaging waste
In the last 20 years, Ireland has recycled 8 billion plastic bottles, 7 billion glass bottles, 6 billion aluminium cans, and 4 million tonnes of paper and cardboard.
Ireland counts waste from all waste sources, whether commercial, industrial or household, so that its waste figures are comprehensive. Some countries only count plastics arising from household waste.
We have a high standard of waste infrastructure. Plastic materials are generally subdivided into further categories on the basis of their chemical makeup and value for onward sale, due to the ease at which they can be processed and recycled.
However, Ireland must reduce the amount of packaging being generated from the current rate of 210kg to a maximum of 180kg per head of capita, the average in Europe, to sustain the country’s excellent recycling performance.
Why not all plastics are the same
Thanks to the high standard of Ireland’s Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs), household recyclable bin materials are separated into ready-to-recycle streams under categories such as HDPE (such as clear and coloured shampoo bottles), PET (plastic drinks bottles) and PVC (the trays you find in ready meals).
Not all plastics can currently be placed in the recycling bin in Ireland - soft plastics, the kind you can scrunch in your hand – like crisp bags and plastic carrier bags – are currently not on the national Recycling List for Ireland, and should therefore go into your residual waste bin.
Shop with a Repak member
Repak has over 2,700 members, from shops to hotels to supermarkets. By shopping with a Repak member, you can rest assure that you are shopping with a business that is funding the collection and recycling of your recycling bin, alongside the bottle banks and bring centres around Ireland. Many of the large supermarkets in Ireland have comprehensive strategies in place to minimise the plastic packaging they place on the market and are fully committed to a sustainable future for Ireland.
Repak works its members to minimise or prevent the use of unnecessary packaging and has helped prevent over 857,000 tonnes of packaging waste from being placed on the Irish market.
Why we are a nation of contamination
One of the biggest problems facing Ireland’s recycling sector is contamination of the recycling bin. As many as 47 per cent of people admit to deliberately placing contaminated waste in their recycling bin, despite the fact that just one piece of contaminated packaging can ruin an entire recycling bin.
Even worse, a recurring issue at recycling facilities is finding used nappies discarded in recycling bins. Not only does this mean an entire bin is contaminated, but it’s a health hazard for the people who work in these facilities and whose job it is to remove contaminated materials from the area in a recycling facility which is known as a picking line.
So, whether it’s by being more sustainability conscious consumers, increasing our efforts to find recyclables at home and at work, or keeping our recycling bins clear of contaminants, the message from Repak’s Team Green is clear - don’t let a good thing go to waste – always make sure recyclables are clean, dry and loosely placed in the recycling bin.
Join Repak's Team Green, recycle more and be in with a chance of winning €500. Every month from October 1st 2018, Repak are giving away €500 to spend with a Repak member of your choice. We’re asking you to make a pledge to Repak, letting us know what differences you’re going to make in order to recycle more plastics. You can share a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram message using #RepakTeamGreen to let us know you’ve entered.
Find out more about joining Repak's Team Green.