Tuesday 24 April 2018

Pubs and hotels rank worst for recycling: Repak

Repak considering whether to 'name and shame' non-compliant companies, writes Sarah McCabe

Seamus Clancy, CEO of Repak
Seamus Clancy, CEO of Repak
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

Vintners and hotels are among the worst offenders when it comes to packaging recycling.

Seamus Clancy, chief executive of recycling programme Repak, said many companies in those sectors are not meeting their legal obligations to recycle packaging.

The European Union Packaging Regulations 2014 impose recycling obligations on most companies who place packaging on the Irish market.

Companies can either pay to be part of a collective recycling scheme - like Repak - or meet their obligations privately.

But some vintners and hotels are doing neither, according to Clancy.

Local authorities are tasked with enforcement.

Across Ireland, Repak estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 companies are not complying with packaging recycling rules.

The Repak board will this year consider whether or not to "name and shame" companies who it knows are non-compliant.

Repak charges fees to its 2,000 members based on the amount and type of packaging they place on the Irish market. The fees are used to subsidise the collection and recycling of waste packaging around the country. Last year, it collected €25.53m from members.

The organisation says it contributes €65.40 per every tonne collected from household green bins each year and €43.85 per tonne collected from community bring-banks.

Despite non-compliance by some companies, Ireland is now one of the leading recycling countries in the EU.

The EU is targeting for 75pc of packaging waste to be recycled by 2030, as well as reducing landfill usage to a maximum of 10pc of all waste by 2030. "We are well ahead of EU targets at the moment," said Clancy.

However, this success is impeded by poor recycling practices in homes and businesses. Contamination of materials, which happens when people do not separate materials properly, means it cannot be recycled, he said.

The problem is much more prevalent in urban areas, Clancy said.

Between 30pc and 34pc of the contents of urban green bins are contaminated compared to between 18pc and 20pc in rural areas.

Clancy puts this down to the fact that pay-by-weight bin rules have already been introduced in most rural areas. Dublin, by comparison, has the highest proportion of fixed bin charges.

The nationwide move to pay-by-weight charges, announced by then Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly last year, has proved controversial.

Some claim it will lead to steep increases in the amount paid by households for waste collection. The Government and industry recently agreed a one year freeze on bin charges to help people transition.

Pay-by-weight rules incentivise recycling, Clancy said.

However, their nationwide introduction will probably lead to an increase in the contamination of recycled material in the short term, he added.

"People suddenly see their green bin as free, so try to put everything into it.

"The only way to tackle that is enforcement by the companies that do the collecting and education campaigns for households.

"The policy itself, we think, is correct and balanced."

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