97,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas

Ireland is expected to generate 97,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas 

New Repak research reveals shopper’s attitudes towards sustainability over the festive season  

  • Ireland is expected to generate 97,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas, which is a 4% increase on last year’s figures 
  • 25% of contamination in recycling waste comes from domestic bins 
  • 93% of shoppers in Ireland receive Christmas gifts each year that they don’t use 
  • 68% would spend more on sustainable gifts, however shoppers prioritise price (42%) and value (19%) over recyclable gifts (12%) when buying Christmas presents  
  • 83% plan to reduce their consumption this Christmas, with shoppers doing so by buying locally (68%), reducing the volume of presents they buy (49%) and buying sustainable gifts (42%) 
  • Despite this, 29% still plan to buy between 6-9 Christmas gifts, and 31% between 10-15 presents 
  • 72% plan to be more conscious of their waste generation this Christmas and of those, 46% will reuse wrapping paper from other occasions for their festive gifts 
  • Repak calls on the public to ‘re-imagine’ their perception of plastic and recycle correctly this Christmas, helping to reach Ireland’s EU target to recycle 50% of all plastics by 2025 

It’s almost Christmas and this festive season, Ireland is expected to generate 97,000 tonnes of packaging waste. While 68% of the public would spend more on sustainable Christmas gifts, buying eco-conscious presents is not the top priority for most, with price (42%) and value (19%) more important to shoppers. That’s according to research1 by not-for-profit environmental organisation, Repak. 

The research of 2,653 shoppers in Ireland, which was carried out by Repak to examine their attitudes towards sustainability at Christmas, reveals 93% of shoppers receive gifts that they don’t use. Yet despite this, many people still plan to buy multiple gifts, as 29% will buy between 6-9 and 31% between 10-15 presents. At least 1 in 10 (14%) will spend between €500-€750 on their presents, and another 14% between €400-€500. 

This Christmas, Repak is encouraging shoppers to make a conscious effort to reduce waste, and recycle correctly, helping Ireland transition to a circular economy. Ireland currently recycles 31% of all plastics, but that needs to increase to 50% by 2025 under EU Legislation. As well as this, research shows that 25% of contamination in recycling bins comes from domestic customers. Learning what items can and cannot be recycled, and putting all recyclable packaging waste, including all plastics, into the recycling bin clean, dry and loose is what everyone in Ireland must do to reach the 50% target. To find out more information about best practice recycling, take two minutes to join Repak Team Green at repak.ie/team-green.  

An eco-conscious Christmas  

Leading a more sustainable lifestyle is top of mind for many shoppers, and it’s no different at Christmas, as 83% plan to reduce their consumption. The most common ways people plan to consume less is to shop locally (68%), and as many of Repak’s 3,400 Members are Irish retailers and brands, people can feel assured that when shopping with a Repak Member, they are working together with the Irish public to green the world. Repak Members have helped manage recyclable packaging waste, and recycled 96,412 tonnes of plastic waste in 2021, an 8% increase on 2020. Other ways shoppers plan to reduce their Christmas consumption is to reduce the volume of presents they buy (49%) and buy sustainable gifts (42%). Some are ‘re-imagining’ how they buy and pack their gifts to be more sustainable, as 28% say they are likely to buy a Christmas gift for someone that’s preowned, and 67% likely to save wrapping paper from other occasions to use on Christmas presents.  

Re-imagining our Christmas consumption 

Almost all (95%) know that when items are recycled correctly, they can have a second life, a reflection perhaps, of the public’s collective effort to ensure Ireland is one of the best performing countries in the EU for recycling. However, Repak research earlier this year2 revealed over half (52%) avoid purchasing plastic packaged products, however plastic is reused to produce many other items under a circular economy. With packaging waste generation at its highest at Christmas, recycling correctly over the festive season is critical to maintaining a circular economy, which ensures that all recycled products continue to be used in the manufacturing of new items. 

CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy commented on the research findings: ‘This Christmas, we are calling on Irish shoppers to shop with a Repak Member and to be more conscious about their consumption and recycling behaviours over the festival holidays. Christmas is a particularly busy time for waste collection operators, as more packaging is generated at this time of year. It is vital we all play our part to ensure we recycle our packaging to help us live in a circular economy, keeping our natural resources in use as much as possible. It is now widely recognised that a linear economy of take – make – dispose is no longer sustainable. We can all make a big difference every day by recycling our packaging correctly, clean, dry and loose. 

By joining Repak Team Green, you will find lots of information to help you be the best recycler. All soft plastics can now go in the recycling bin. Help us reach Ireland’s future packaging recycling targets and green our world. By working with our 3,400 Members, helping them to recycle their packaging, Repak is committed to supporting this journey in becoming a greener Ireland for us and for our future generations’’. 

For a full list of Repak Members, visit repak.ie.  

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