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In numbers: Ireland's growing recycling trend

Some 208,000 tonnes of household packaged was recovered last year.

Image: quinn.anya via Creative Commons

ALMOST 10 PER CENT more packaging waste was recovered from Irish households last year than in 2010, according to the latest figures from Repak.

Repak funded the recovery 4.1 per cent more used packaging last year, or 652,000 tonnes in total – the equivalent of 3.37 billion 750ml cereal boxes or 1.2 billion plastic refuse sacks. Repak says that in carbon saving terms, the figure is equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off Irish roads for a year.

Ireland is currently ranked seventh out of the 27 EU member states for packaging recycling, according to Eurostat figures.

Here are the key figures for Irish recycling in 2011:

  • 208,000 – tonnes of household packaging recovered last year
  • 652,000 – tonnes of used packaging in total whose recovery Repak funded
  • 20.9 – percentage increase in tonnes of plastic recovered/recycled in 2011
  • 19.6 – percentage increase in tonnes of aluminium recovered/recycled in 2011
  • 14 – percentage increase in tonnes of glass recovered/recycled in 2011
  • 20 – percentage decrease in tonnes of wood recovered/recycled in 2011
  • 56,000 – tonnes of Refuse Derived Fuel funded by Repack from contaminated paper and plastic
  • 65 – percentage increase in Refuse Derived Fuel since 2010
  • 26.1 million – euros spent by Repak in total on supporting packaging recovery last year
  • 253 million – euros invested by Repak members to support packaging recovery and recycling since its founding in 1997

Repak said that the increase in plastic packaging recovered reflects strong growth in Refuse Derived Fuel; the contaminated paper and plastic used to produce the fuel would have traditionally gone to landfill.

The recovery of used packaging in Ireland was the third-highest per head of population in the EU in 2009.

Repak CEO Andrew Hetherington said that the organisation welcomes changes to landfill charges introdued by the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan for giving “greater clarity on waste strategy” and better support the economics of recycling.

However, he said that Repak’s funding support is under threat:

While we are confident Repak funding has helped again grow overall packaging recovery and recycling rates, 2011 was a challenging year for Repak.  Our scheme is being impacted by decreasing fee income, increasing recovery/recycling costs and the possibility of higher targets exacerbated by lack of enforcement.

Furthermore, the current PRI [Producer Responsibility Initiative] review, while welcome, adds further uncertainty around issues such as the introduction of a potential government imposed packaging tax and the possible introduction of a Deposit and Refund scheme for certain packaging waste types.

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