05 Dec 2021

Increased volumes of packaging waste during Christmas 2020, according to Repak

Kilkenny Kilkenny

Recycling. File pic.

This festive season is like no other we’ve seen recently, but new research by environmental not-for-profit organisation Repak4 reveals that a third (33%) of shoppers planned to spend more on Christmas presents, even though 34% won’t get the opportunity to give gifts to loved ones in person.

The Repak survey of 2,600 people in Ireland which examines how we are spending Christmas 2020 also reveals that many of us will be splashing out more on presents this year, with 16% spending between €500-€750. Right now, 2 million more parcels are being posted a week in comparison to this time last year5. Given the significant increase, it’s no surprise that according to Repak data, Ireland is expected to generate 81,174 tonnes of packaging waste during Christmas, a 7% increase on 2019.

Not only is Christmas the most wonderful time of the year, it’s the time when recycling bins are at their fullest. Over Christmas, Repak is encouraging the public to learn to recycle better at home, ensuring that Ireland reaches its future recycling targets under the EU’s Circular Economy Package. By joining Repak’s Team Green initiative which will keep you in the loop with recycling tips, becoming familiar with what items can and cannot go into the recycling bin and placing all recyclable items into a recycling bin clean, dry and loose, the public will be demonstrating best practice recycling and helping to protect Ireland’s environment.

According to the Repak survey, the most common ways that our festive celebrations differ to other years are:

Not seeing friends (62%)
Not visiting extended family (47%)
Not giving presents to loved ones in person (34%)

This Christmas, 27% of those polled bought all their presents online. In 2020, packaging waste from online retailers increased by a staggering 15 million standard sized parcels6 and most of this waste will be generated in the coming weeks. With 84% shopping online more since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the packaging waste generated from online sales will create a heavy influx of materials for waste operators to process during Christmas.

All I want for Christmas is an eco-conscious gift

The findings of the Repak study reveal that 86% say it’s important to be environmentally conscious when buying Christmas gifts this year. With that in mind, 28% only bought presents from Irish retailers and another 33% bought more gifts from Irish retailers than they ever have. By choosing to shop local with a Repak Member during Christmas, the public can feel assured that they are purchasing presents from retailers who are recycling correctly and helping to protect the environment. For a full list of Repak Members, visit


Bag up the Christmas recycling!


As Christmas is the heaviest period for waste generation each year, it’s particularly important that the public make a collective effort to recycle more and correctly in the coming weeks. In anticipation of the increased levels of packaging waste that households will generate this Christmas, many waste operators have announced that if your recycling bin is full, you can leave materials beside the bin in clear waste bags and they will accept them for collection7.


CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy said: ‘Christmas continues to be the busiest time of year for waste collectors across Ireland and I commend them for encouraging households to recycle more by accepting extra bags of recyclables if their recycling bins are full over the festive season.


There are many unsung heroes in the provision of waste services throughout the pandemic. In the first lockdown in March, Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe where waste collection, recycling services and capacity needs were addressed, and the show carried on as normal. This was coordinated at a national level by the Department, Regional Waste Planning Offices and implemented by the Waste Industry and we thank them for their hard work dealing with a service which many of us take for granted.


During Christmas, we are calling on the public to show leadership and responsibility for protecting the environment, by recycling more and correctly at home. Joining our initiative, Repak’s Team Green is a positive first step in that regard. Since we first launched Team Green, Ireland’s packaging recycling tonnes have increased by 9.1% and almost 20,000 individuals have committed to protecting the planet, showing the difference we can make by working together. I would encourage those who have not yet joined to do so to learn about best practice recycling behaviours’.


With many people now spending more time in their household, this Christmas pledge to become a better recycler at home ensuring Ireland continues to be a packaging recycling leader in Europe. Joining Repak’s Team Green takes a few minutes but pledging to recycle more will make a long term, positive difference to the planet. To join Repak’s Team Green, visit

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