Repak’s recycling research highlights a damaging gap in recycling knowledge among Irish residents 

·       Only 34% of Irish residents strongly agree they understand how to correctly recycle

·       Repak launches a new campaign, Don’t Waste Earth Day, to encourage everyone, from consumers to commercial businesses, to sort and separate their packaging properly this Earth Day

Repak’s recycling research highlights a damaging gap in recycling knowledge among Irish residents

Ahead of Earth Day, Repak has unveiled research* pointing to a critical gap in Ireland’s recycling know-how. Only 34% of Irish residents confidently understand the recycling process, and a mere 33% find recycling straightforward. Compounding this knowledge gap, 41% believe minor recycling errors don’t affect the overall process, revealing a significant misunderstanding of the impact that individual actions can have on the effectiveness of recycling.  

Ireland is currently forecast to miss its 2025 EU target of recycling 50% of all plastic packaging.  Repak is launching a new campaign, Don’t Waste World Earth Day, to encourage everyone, from consumers to commercial businesses, to not waste the day by separating all packaging into the correct bin and making sure it is clean, dry and loose when placed in the recycling bin.  

If all consumers and businesses made a concerted effort to separate their packaging and ensure it is clean, dry and loose when recycled, we would make pivotal steps towards meeting EU targets and fostering a sustainable environment. By empowering more people with the knowledge and promoting responsible recycling practices, Ireland can work towards a greener, more sustainable future.  

Research Results 

Good recycling habits start with separating packaging into the correct bin, but only half (52%) say they always separate their recycling into the correct bins at home, and only 28% say they always separate their recycling when out and about. Just half (50%) of those surveyed say they check whether packaging can be recycled when they go to dispose of it, while one in ten (11%) check when they go to purchase an item. 27% say they check for a recycling symbol at both purchase and disposal.  

When asked how they would feel about Ireland missing its 2025 EU packaging targets, 34% said they would feel disappointed, and 17% said they would feel frustrated. The key to achieving as close to these targets as possible is a collective effort from businesses as well as the wider public to double down on recycling and embed best practice recycling habits.  

Supporting Ireland’s Recycling Efforts 

Separating packaging into the correct bins (recycling, compost, general waste, glass, and plastic bottles/tin cans) is crucial to effective recycling. Despite 88%** of those surveyed saying they felt confident in their recycling abilities, only half (52%) answered correctly what items can go in the recycling bin.  

Paper, cardboard, tins, cans and foil can all go in the recycling bin, clean dry and loose, and all plastics can go into the recycling bin. Glass, bottles, batteries, food waste, coffee pods, and soiled napkins or kitchen roll are just some of the items that should not go into the recycling bin and risk contaminating the entire recycling bin.  

As of 1st July 2023, all businesses must also legally have three bins at their back door to help with the proper separation of their packaging. This Earth Day, Repak is calling on the public and businesses to correctly separate all their packaging for recycling, clean dry and loose. 

Zoë Kavanagh, CEO of Repak said:

“We’re at a critical point when it comes to our recycling habits. The research shows there’s a gap in our recycling knowledge, and a misunderstanding of how the smallest mistakes can have big impacts when it comes to the recycling process. To meet Ireland’s EU targets, we all need to play our part. Let’s take the opportunity for Earth Day and take a simple action to correctly separate and recycle packaging in the correct bins to support a greener Ireland.  

We’re calling on everyone to work together as a team this Earth Day to build on our recycling habits. If we all take some time to prepare and separate our packaging, it makes it easier to recycle when it reaches the recycling centres and helps contribute to a greener Ireland.” 

Repak’s Advice for Best Practice Recycling  

Repak have shared advice and top tips to help you make the most of World Earth Day by correctly separating packaging and improving recycling habits at home, in the office, and out and about.  

1.       Make sure all materials go into each of the five bins at home: compost, general waste, recycling, glass and plastic 

2.       Make sure all materials are clean, dry and loose before placing in the recycling bin 

3.       Don’t put clothes, shoes, batteries or food waste into your recycling bin 

4.       Don’t just look at what’s in your kitchen, recycle items from around the home including cleaning and toiletry bottles, newspapers and magazines and cardboard boxes 

5.       Consider what packaging can be reimagined and used for other purposes  

For more recycling hints and tips, visit to find out more.  

* refers to an omnibus survey of 1,000 Irish residents conducted by Bounce in February 2024 

** refers to an omnibus survey of 1,000 Irish residents conducted by 3Gem in March 2024 

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