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Packaging Recycling Levels – Further Measures Needed

New figures show that further measures will be needed to ensure that packaging recycling levels don’t stagnate.
Waste Recycling Station

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published information about waste packaging management in 2017. The figures indicate that the generation of waste packaging – including glass, paper, plastics and wood – remained high in 2017. In addition, while recycling rates were high for some waste streams, including glass and wood, recycling levels have levelled off over the last number of years.

Ms Mary Frances Rochford, (Programme Manager in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Sustainability), stated, “As a society we need to move to more sustainable consumption patterns which together can reduce waste, energy use and carbon emissions. The information published today shows that packaging waste continues to increase in line with economic growth. Of particular concern is both the level of plastic packaging in use and the fact that recycling rates appear to have plateaued in recent years, at around 34%.
Ireland needs a step change in waste packaging management. Our figures indicate that there are challenges ahead in meeting future EU targets and the ambition of the EU Plastics strategy. Preventing this waste in the first place will be an important component of Ireland’s response if we are to achieve our goals.”

Key Data:

Ireland generated over 1m tonnes of waste packaging in 2017.
Almost 217kg of waste packaging was generated per person, including 59kg of plastic packaging waste per person, a slight increase on 2016.
In 2017, 66% of waste packaging generated was recycled, exceeding the current EU target (55%) and the 2025 target (65%). The packaging recycling target for 2030 (70%) will be challenging but is achievable.
In 2017, 27% of waste packaging was plastic. Just over one third (34%) was recycled, exceeding the current EU target of 22.5%. This is, however, a long way short of future EU targets for 2025 (50%) and for 2030 (55%).
Recovery rates for plastics were at 78% – this includes both recycling and incineration.

Mr Stephen Treacy, (EPA Senior Scientist) stated, “The EPA’s recent waste characterisation study, looking at the contents of household and commercial bins, showed that up to one third of the contents of our general waste bins could be diverted to recycling with better separation and treatment. Improved separation and lower levels of contaminated waste will help improve recycling rates, which is needed to put Ireland on track for a circular economy.”

The EPA today also published 2017 figures for Ireland’s recycling and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). This information is now available on the EPA website where you can also view details of Ireland’s progress towards EU waste recycling, recovery and diversion targets.

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