Packaging waste from online retailers up 25% with Irish companies left footing the bill

Repak says it costs €1m per year to collect and recycle the packaging waste of international online retailers, most of whom don’t pay a cent towards the recycling costs 
Packaging waste from online retailers up 25% with Irish companies left footing the bill

In 2020, packaging waste generated from online shopping in Ireland increased by 2,953 tonnes, the equivalent of 15 million standard sized parcels or 9 parcels per household.

Packaging waste generated from online shopping in Ireland is up 25% this year, representing an increase of 2,953 tonnes or the equivalent of 15 million standard-sized parcels.

That's according to new research by Repak, who are highlighting the figures in light of the fact 3,400 businesses, most of whom are Irish companies, will bear the costs of recycling the additional packaging waste despite much of it being generated by online retailers outside the country. 

"Organisations like Sports Direct, Jack Wills, Screwfix.ie, Wish, Shein, Light in the Box, M&M Direct, Under Armour and many more are placing thousands of packages on the Irish market every week and don’t pay a penny towards the recycling costs," Repak CEO Séamus Clancy said.

Repak said it costs €1m per year to collect and recycle the packaging waste of international online retailers and is calling on the aforementioned retailers to act in a more "corporate and socially responsible manner" by contributing to the recycling cost of their packaging.

Seamus Clancy, Repak CEO at the Forge Hill recycling centre, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Seamus Clancy, Repak CEO at the Forge Hill recycling centre, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

“In the last few years, some large international retailers, like Amazon, have come forward to play their part by becoming accountable for the packaging they place on the Irish market, however, there is a significant portion of overseas online retailers who continue to not contribute to the cost of recycling the packaging waste they place on the Irish market," Mr Clancy said. 

"Unlike Repak members, these companies significantly over package goods and have no incentive to reduce the waste they generate."

Repak has over 3,400 members (importers, brand-holders, retailers) whose fees fund household recycling bins, bottle banks, civic amenities and commercial back-door waste nationwide.

To comply with EU packaging waste legislation, any business in Ireland with an annual turnover of more than €1 million that places over 10 tonnes of packaging on the market each year is obligated to join Repak.

"Legislation should not be required to do the right thing," Mr Clancy said.

"Regardless of the uncertainty that lies ahead in the immediate future for retail trading, the volume of waste packaging being placed on the Irish market by overseas online retailers continues to significantly increase. Ignoring this situation is unsustainable long term and cannot continue.”

"We are asking them to do the right thing on a voluntary basis rather than having to wait for legislation."

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