In addition to paper 682,688 tones of packaging waste has arisen. The stream of packaging waste has risen from 400,000 in 1993 to a figure estimated to be close to 700,000 tones by 1998 (EPA waste management database Summary 1998).
According to the the EPA summary report for 1998 a major reason for the increase in the amount of packaging is the increased rate of collection of materials for management. However the percentage of this packaging being recycled has remained the same with rate of recovery at 15%, 22% and 14% in 1993, 1995 and 1998 respectively (EPA Newsletter January 1999).
This means an overall increase in the amount of waste going to landfills and approximately a 44% shortfall on the governments projected recovery rate.
In addition to the 100,905 tones of packaging already collected a further 70,000 tones of packaging waste will have to be retrieved every year in order to achieve the 25% target. The latter is a 2 fold lower target than that for most other European countries. The reason for this is most likely because Ireland cannot realistically achieve this target as the infrastructure required to do so is not in place or well managed.
The trend of packaging retrieval seems futile and inefficient in the long term. In agreement with the EU directive on Sustainable development the EPA is prioritizing prevention and minimization before re-use and recycling with energy recovery and disposal at the bottom of their pyramid. (National waste database report EPA 1998, Summary report Jan 1999). Unless we change our ways and realize that the rubbish we dump in our bins is our responsibility then we face increased health risks, further levies on our waste collection and heavy penalties from the EU for failing to meet our objectives as a responsible modern nation.
Questions about packaging
Is there a need for a plastic/paper bag for a carton of milk or packet of biscuits at the local shop?
Often people have a carrier bag/sports bag with them but they are still offered a plastic bag? Many shops have signs saying the assistant will only give you a bag if you ask for one and pay your 22c fee of course. Our experience is you have to ask NOT to have a plastic bag. Politely refuse the offer of a plastic/paper bag if you feel you dont need it. Ask for a paper bag instead or re-use a cardbord box that sometimes are available from re-stocking work in the shop.
Where do you throw your empty soft drink bottle or can?
Find out where your nearest bring bank is. Are there enough/any plastic/glass/aluminum can banks near or at your work place, sports hall, local shopping complex?
Do goods purchased in a shop have to be wrapped in multiple layers of paper and then placed in a box?
Try to cut down on packaging by politely refuse the excessive packaging of materials.