Packaging waste from online retailers grows by 34% to reach over 10,000 tonnes in 2018 – Repak online shopping report reveals

  • Yet the likes of Ali express, Missguided, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Screwfix.ie and many others are not paying a penny towards the recycling of their packaging in Ireland
  • Repak calls for more online retailers to adopt a leadership position when it comes to paying towards the recycling of their packaging
  • Department and Minister should establish a forum to deal with this packaging

 

 

Key findings

 

  • It costs over €500,000 per year to collect and recycle this packaging – a cost being unfairly borne by Repak members
  • €2bn worth of online sales equating to 33million different consumer goods purchased with clothes and electronics the most popular items
  • Irish shoppers import 27 tonnes of packaging per-day via online shopping – similar to the waste generated by Carlow or Ennis in a year.
  • Some international online retailers are abusing Ireland’s recycling system by dumping over 10,000 tonnes of material, says Repak report – Amazon being a notable exception in this regard
  • Packaging generated from online sales could surpass 100,000 tonnes in Ireland by 2032.

 

The amount of packaging waste generated in Ireland from online shopping outside the state will grow by 34% in 2018. Ireland is now generating over 10,000 tonnes of packaging waste from online shopping per year, up from 7,500 tonnes in 2017. This amount is the equivalent to the size Carlow would generate in packaging waste per year.

 

However, while online shopping provides greater choice and variety for Irish consumers, the cost of recycling the packaging from online sales is borne by domestic Irish businesses which creates an unfair competitive advantage for online retailers. Some of the world’s largest online retailers, such as Ebay, Ali express, Missguided,  Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing place 27 tonnes of waste packaging daily on the Irish market without paying a cent towards the nation’s recycling bill, according to the latest Repak Online Shopping report. Commenting on the continued abuse of Ireland’s laws by larger international online retailers, CEO of Repak, Séamus Clancy said:

 

“Large international online retailers are evading their packaging recycling responsibilities by dumping their packaging waste on the Irish market without paying a penny. Online retailers outside the state continue to use a loop hole in the law to avoid not spending a cent towards the cost of recycling the packaging they deliver to Irish households.

The likes of Ali Express and other large online retailers will dump an estimated 10,049 tonnes on the Irish market in 2018, that’s 27 tonnes per day. This material has to be collected, accounted for and recycled. It is costing €562,738 a year to collect, recycle and recover this packaging from householders, which is extremely unfair to Irish companies and Repak members who are paying to have their packaging recycled and contributing to Ireland’s recycling effort. This must be addressed by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

 

However, while Repak is being critical of the retailers mentioned, Amazon are showing leadership with its environmental responsibilities and is currently in the process of joining Repak to financially support the cost of recycling the packaging it is supplying onto the market. Repak is asking other online retailers to follow their example and stand up to their responsibilities.

Following the release of this report, Séamus Clancy warned that online retailers based outside the state have an unfair advantage over Irish companies making contributions towards recycling and that the issue of recycling packaging from large online retailers will get dramatically worse if the Department of Communications, Climate Change and the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency do not take action.

 

“The growth rate of online shopping in Ireland is staggering and this presents a significant problem for recycling in Ireland. At the current rate of growth, the volume of such packaging entering the country will exceed 100,000 tonnes by 2031. To put these projections in context, less than 1,000,000 tonnes of packaging waste were generated from domestic sources last year. Currently we have no way of policing those who place this packaging on our market. It cannot continue.

 

We are continually advocating that an online retail forum be established by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to consider how best to address this matter. What is considered a significant problem within the recycling industry and retail industry today, will soon become overwhelming in time. Online shopping is outpacing the growth in traditional retail by more than double. The longer we wait to enforce reasonable and sustainable recycling legislation for online retailers the more unfair it becomes for Irish businesses contributing to our recycling effort.

 

The report titled, Study of Online Consumer Sales: The Economic Impacts of Online Consumer Sales on Additional Packaging and its Costs in Ireland, was prepared for Repak by Dr. Pat McCloughan, Managing Director of PMCA Economic Consulting. The report outlines the growth rate of online shopping and the waste packaging generated as a result. It also highlights the lack of a recycling policy within the e-commerce industry in Ireland.

 

In 2018, Irish households will spend an estimated €2 billion on online cross-border consumer goods, equating to 33m tonnes of goods.  Clothing/apparel, footwear and accessories are the most popular online cross-border purchases, with Irish consumers spending €386m in 2018, which is 19% of all goods purchased online. Consumer electronics (€301m), toys and hobbies (€301m) and jewellery and watches (€289m) are joint second and third.

 

Cardboard remains the principal packaging material accompanying imported consumer goods, accounting for 75% of the 10,049 tonnes of packaging waste generated by online cross-border purchases in 2018. The volume of plastic in packaging waste material in 2018 was 16%.

 

The report calls on the Department of Communications, Climate Change and the Environment in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency to commence a proactive examination of the e-commerce considered in the most effective policy response.

 

 

 

Key findings:

 

  • The amount of packaging waste generated in Ireland from online shopping outside the state grew by 34% in 2018 to 10,049 tonnes. That’s 27 tonnes per day. Up from 7,500 tonnes in 2017.
  • It costs over €500,000 per year to collect and recycle this packaging
  • The value of consumer goods purchases from abroad via online channels by people living or based in Ireland is estimated at over €2 billion  in 2018
  • The quantity of imported consumer goods into Ireland through online means is estimated at over 33 million tonnes in 2018.
  • Packaging generated from online sales could surpass 100,000 tonnes in Ireland by 2032.
  • Clothing/apparel, footwear and accessories are the most popular online cross-border purchases, with Irish consumers spending €386m in 2018, which is 19% of all goods purchased online. Consumer electronics (€301m), toys and hobbies (€301m) and jewellery and watches (€289m) are joint second and third.

 

 

Table*Estimated value of goods from online purchase abroad in ireland

Category of purchase 2018 (€m)
Clothing/apparel, footwear and accessories 386
Consumer electronics, computers/tablets/mobiles and peripherals 301
Toys and hobbies 301
Jewellery/watches 289
Collectables, memorabilia and art 238
Sports and outdoor equipment 227
Cosmetics/beauty products 261
   
Total 2,003

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