Ireland surpasses all EU recycling and recovery targets for 2019: Repak

Seamus Clancy, chief executive of Repak

In 2019, the total amount of Repak funded material recovered and recycled in Ireland reached the one million tonne mark for the first time



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26 June 2020

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Ireland surpassed all of its EU recycling and recovery targets in 2019, achieving a total provisional forecast recovery rate of 96% and a recycling rate of 67.5%  subject to EPA verification in due course. The recycling rates were as follows: Plastic 35% (EU target: 22.5%), Paper 82% (EU target 60%), Glass 78% (EU target 60%), Metal 85% (EU target 50%) and Wood 81% (EU target 15%).

The news was announced by Repak, Ireland’s only government-approved packaging recycling compliance scheme, at the launch of its 2019 Annual Report.

Repak says the report’s title, ‘Backing our Future’, is reflective of the strategic realignment it made in 2019 to ensure it is best positioned to achieve all future EU packaging recycling targets and can efficiently comply with new EU directives. These include the Waste Framework Directive and Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive, which are both under the Circular Economy Package (CEP) that is being transposed into Irish Law in July 2020, and the Single Use Packaging (SUP) Directive, due for transposition in July 2021.

Recycling and recovery in 2019

In 2019, the total amount of Repak funded material recovered and recycled in Ireland reached the one million mark for the first time. A total of 1,008,130 tonnes of packaging waste placed on the Irish market was recovered and recycled, 103,881 tonnes more than the 2018 (11.5%) increase.

Recycling levels increased by 42,000 tonnes (7%) to 678k tonnes and recovery tonnes increased by 62,340 (23%) to 333,279 tonnes. Commercial recycling increased by 17k to 379k tonnes – a 5% increase, and household recycling increased by 25k tonnes to 299k tonnes – a 9% increase.

Repak’s ‘transformation’

Following another successful year, CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy, spoke about Repak’s evolution. “Over the last five years,” he said, “Repak has transformed from a compliance scheme into a leading environmental organisation, successfully managing and funding the continuous growth of recycling and recovery rates across all key materials.

“We have demonstrated that as a Producer Responsibility Initiative, we have brought together our members, recovery operators, central government and national regulators to achieve the optimum recycling and recovery rates for packaging waste,” Clancy said.

He added that “a single year 7% increase in recycling rates across all materials is a strong indicator that Ireland remains amongst the top nations in Europe for its recycling levels”. In particular, he noted that “the increase in plastic recycling by 2% to 35% this year leaves us firmly on track to achieve our 2025 and 2030 EU recycling targets”.

Measures introduced

During 2019, Repak introduced and expanded a number of initiatives to optimise the recycling and recovery of packaging waste in Ireland. These included:

  • Funding for the reprocessing of Irish plastic packaging waste in Ireland. This funding helped to support the re-processing of 13,781 tonnes of waste plastic packaging
  • Incentivised collection and recycling of plastic packaging waste from businesses which resulted in an additional 2,000 tonnes of commercial plastic packaging waste being recycled in 2019
  • Additional funding category was introduced for pots, tubs & trays to incentivise the separation of these materials from packaging waste streams

Plastic Pledge

Next week, Repak will launch the 2019 progress report of its Plastic Pledge initiative, which will highlight the continued proactive approach that 115 of Ireland’s industry leaders are taking to remove avoidable plastics from their business premises and from sale.

The report recognises the ongoing actions and initiatives being undertaken by Repak to effectively manage the challenges that the European Green Deal, Circular Economy Package and Single Use Plastics Directive will bring for all Repak Members and for Ireland.

“Facing these challenges requires Repak to manage the cost and reporting burden on behalf of our members,” Clancy said. “Our new licence application, which is currently being prepared for submission by 30 June 2020, strategically reflects how future packaging recycling targets, and plastic in particular, can be achieved in members’ best interest.”

Repak had a net gain of 441 members in 2019, bringing the total number of Repak members to 3,407. For more information on Repak, visit



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