Repak recycles 652,000 tonnes of packing

Used packaging recycled last year equalled the carbon savings involved in taking over 250,000 cars off Irish roads.

Repak funded the recovery and recycling of 652,000 tonnes of used packaging from businesses and households in 2011, an increase of just over 4% on the previous year.

The organisation’s 2011 results, published today, show that consumers continued to embrace recycling last year. Household packaging, at 208,000 tonnes, was up almost 10% on 2010.

Last year Repak funded 25% above and beyond the requirement of its own members. It was in excess of 15% in 2010.

Repak is funded from packaging levies and operates on a not-for-profit basis, with members charged according to the type and amount of packaging they produce.

However, Repak warns that decreasing fee income and increased recycling rates are threatening future supports.

Last year Repak raised €25.2m from its member companies, a decrease of 4% on the previous year and reflecting the fall in economic activity.

Over the same period Repak spent just over €26m, resulting in a net deficit of €891,000.

Repak chief executive Andrew Hetherington has urged the Government to push for greater compliance with environmental laws and increased participation rates.

Over the past 10 years there have been up to 60 prosecutions under packaging regulations. Repak’s marketing and sales manager, Darrell Crowe, said that while the number of prosecutions was better than in other areas such as tyres, farm plastics, and waste electrical and electronic equipment, there could be a greater level of enforcement.

Mr Crowe said Repak has called for the Environmental Protection Agency to take responsibility for enforcement. He said local authorities could be “conflicted” when dealing with offending manufacturers.

The 2011 results show significant increases in the amount of plastic, aluminium, and glass collected.

Plastic, at 107,750 tonnes, was up almost 21%; aluminium, at 4,012 tonnes, was up almost 20%; and glass, at 121,532 tonnes, was up 14%.

About 296,755 tonnes of paper were collected, an increase of almost 3%, and 44,252 tonnes of steel were collected, a 7% rise.

Wood recycling, at 77,500 tonnes, has fallen 20% because of a sharp drop in commercial activity, particularly in the construction sector.

The 21% increase in plastic packaging reflected the strong growth in refuse-derived fuel.

Last year Repak funded the manufacture of 56,000 tonnes of the fuel from contaminated paper and plastic — a 65% increase.

In 2011, people filled green bins, bring banks, and recycling centres with the equivalent of:

  • 234m aluminium cans
  • 774m steel cans
  • 627m plastic bottles
  • 1.2bn refuse sacks
  • 321m glass bottles
  • 3.372bn 750ml cardboard cereal boxes
  • 3.1m wooden pallets

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