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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 June, 2018

Repak is 20 years old - here’s what we’ve recycled as a nation in that time

What does 10 million tonnes look like?


IT’S BEEN EXACTLY twenty years since Repak first established itself in Ireland, aiming to fundamentally change the way that people thought about and processed their rubbish, and its inevitable impact on the environment.

In that time, over €400 million has been contributed by Repak members to support recycling in Ireland and we’ve reached a 91% rate of recovery and recycling of all waste packaging. This places us within the top seven countries in Europe for recycling.

Over the next two years, Repak will install 100 new bottle banks around the country to ensure that we stay on track for the EU’s targets (at present we’re either achieving or on track for 31 of 34 goals).

But before then, let’s take a moment to appreciate what it really took to decrease our number of landfills from 126 to four.

Here’s what we’ve recycled, in terms you can get to grips with.

1. In 20 years, we’ve recycled the weight of 790,514 Dublin Buses in packaging

File Photo Results of a tendering competition for 10% of Dublin Bus routes are due to be announced by the National Transport Authority Source: Sasko Lazarov

During the last two decades, Repak estimates that 10 million tonnes of packaging has been diverted from landfills. When you consider how little most of the packaging you would usually throw out weighs, that’s a lot of full recycling bins.

2. Last year, we recycled the weight of 4.2 million Guinness kegs in paper

shutterstock_10919761 Source: Shutterstock/AGITA LEIMANE

Last year, a total of 593,991 tonnes of waste was sent for recycling. According to Repak, nearly half (49.7%) of this consisted of paper, while over a fifth (22.2%) was glass, 14.3% was plastic and nearly 10% was wood.

3. In the last six years, we’ve avoided the weight of half the Golden Gate Bridge going in a landfill


In the last six years alone, we’ve managed to save 470,000 tonnes of waste from ending up in a landfill. For those of you who have spent time in San Francisco, that’s about half the weight of its famous steel bridge, which spans 1.7 miles.

4. In ten years, we reduced the waste per person per year by 256 bags of sugar

shutterstock_583273915 Source: Shutterstock/iprachenko

According to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014, we had reduced our waste per capita to 331 kilograms per person per year. This was down from what Eurostat estimated was around 587 per capita in 2004.

5. Last year, we recycled the weight of 287,350 fridges in electrical waste

shutterstock_561890014 Source: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

Last year alone, we collectively recycled approximately 34,482 tonnes of electrical waste across Ireland.

6. Last year, we recycled an extra 120 Spires worth of packaging

Source: Andrew Parnell

Our achievements wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t increase each year and according to Repak, last year was no exception. Last year, we recycled an extra 17,856 tonnes, which is equivalent to about 120 times the weight of Dublin’s Spire.

7. Last year, we recycled 32 million batteries

shutterstock_388587535 Source: Shutterstock/Oleksii Fedorenko

Last year alone, we recycled 812 tonnes of batteries, which amounts to almost eight batteries per person in Ireland.

8. Each year, we all use 286 less shopping bags on average

shutterstock_171874811 Source: Shutterstock/connel

According to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, we have reduced the number of plastic bags we use per capita by 307 per year to 21 per capita per year.

Celebrate twenty years of Repak by learning exactly what should or shouldn’t be recycled. Visit to find out exactly what you can put into your recycling bin. Change for the better and recycle – just make sure you’re doing it right. 

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