Increase in Packaging and Recovery Rates in 2011

Last year Ireland continued to exceed EU used packaging recovery and recycling targets by recovering and recycling 652,000 tonnes an increase of 4.1% on 2010, which represents the equivalent carbon savings of taking over a quarter of a million cars off Irish roads in 2011. Of the 652,000 tonnes Repak funded, 89% was recycled and 11% was recovered.

Repak reports increases in packaging recovery/recycling for the following material types: aluminium a 19.6% increase, a 14% increase in glass, a 20.9% increase in plastic, 7.2% increase in steel. However, there was a significant drop in wood recycling due to a sharp drop in commercial activity, particularly in the construction sector.

In 2011, Repak raised Eur25.2 million from member companies, a decrease of 4% on 2010 reflecting the drop in packaging placed on the market, mirroring the drop in the domestic economic activity. During the same period, Repak spent Eur26.1 million in total on supporting packaging recovery in 2011, resulting in a net deficit of Eur891,000.

The 21% increase in plastic packaging recovered primarily reflects strong growth in RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel). 56,000 tonnes of RDF were funded by Repak from contaminated paper and plastic, which would have traditionally gone to landfill, representing an increase of 65% in 2011 versus the previous year.

According to the 2010 EPA National Waste Database Report (latest available figures) Repak recovered 74% of used packaging in that year, with 66% recycled. Since 1998 Repak has helped Ireland grow packaging recycling from under 15%. In 1996 when the packaging directive was first introduced Ireland was one of the poorer EU packaging recycling nations whereas it is now ranked 7th in Europe, according to the latest Eurostat figures for packaging recycling.

Household packaging recovered in 2011 was 208,000 tonnes up 9.7% on 2010, 32% of the total tonnes supported by Repak in 2011. According to the latest available CSO figures, Ireland recovered 152 kilos of used packaging per head of population in 2009, which was the third highest in the EU after Germany and Luxembourg.

Repak currently has 2,291 members including leading domestic and international retailers and FMCG companies: Musgraves, Tesco, O2, The Coca-Cola Company, C&C Group and Largo Foods.

Dr Andrew Hetherington, chief executive of Repak, comments: “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 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. Such issues could have serious negative impacts on the current success of the Repak scheme.”

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