Plastic Packaging Problem –

28% of Plastic Packaging Recycled in 2021

Plastic packaging targets in IrelandGreyhound Recycling is calling for the public to help increase our national recycling rate for plastic packaging. In this blog post, we explore what can be done to continue improving recycling efforts. survey

A recent survey by the EPA shows that just 28% of plastic packaging was recycled in Ireland in 2021. In less than 18 months, by 2025, we need this figure to jump to 65% or we will face EU penalties. A big ask.

So while our country has made strides in recycling, there is still much work to be done, particularly in other areas of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” chain. Namely the ‘reducing’ and ‘reusing’ sections.

With our rate of 28% plastic packaging recycling, the remaining 72% – almost 350,000 tonnes of plastic – is burned in incinerators. That figure is also growing.

European average

To understand the significance of Ireland’s recycling rates, it is essential to look at the broader picture. The European average is nearly 38% of plastic packaging waste getting recycled, making Ireland’s recycling rate of 28% a slow burn. More is needed to be done to meet European targets in 18 months.

The EPA noted that “The new levy on waste sent for recovery, and increases to the landfill levy, will reward better practices of segregation provided.”

How can we improve?

Despite the improvements, there are still ways we can improve our recycling rates. New brown bins for commercial businesses and the brown bin roll out in rural areas, expected next year, will reduce down our nation’s black bin usage.

Another critical step is to increase awareness among Irish citizens about what you can and cannot recycle. Many people are still tossing out recyclable materials that end up in landfills, further damaging the environment.

But it’s not all bad news, “Ireland achieved high recycling rates for a number of packaging types:

  • Glass 84%
  • Paper & cardboard 73%
  • Wood 51%
  • Metal 58%

Based on these figures, Ireland is already on track to meet new EU recycling targets for 2025 and 2030 for glass, wood and ferrous metal.  Some improvements will be needed to meet the 2030 target for paper/cardboard, aluminium, and plastic.”

Another way to promote recycling is through better collection systems and expanding available recycling facilities. Ireland has made great strides in establishing recycling collection centers and facilities. There is still a need for more widespread coverage.

Residents living in rural areas and smaller towns might have difficulty accessing facilities. This could contribute to the lower recycling rate for such areas.

By increasing the number of facilities and providing more options for collection in remote areas, there will be better opportunities for everyone to recycle.


Recycling is clearly not the only answer for the environmental problems we face. Reducing consumption and reusing existing materials are of greater value to our environment. It is something every person should consider before recycling.

We also need a greater awareness of what can and cannot be recycled and education campaigns about our waste. Although we are a small nation, Ireland’s continued persistence in recycling efforts sets a precedent for the rest of the world to follow.