Online retail giants 'not paying a cent' towards €1m recycling bill 

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Padraig Hoare

Major global online retailers are not contributing towards the €1m a year it takes to recycle their packaging, which has grown 25 per cent in 2020, or almost 3,000 tonnes.

Non-profit environmental organisation Repak called on the likes of British retail firms Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct and Jack Wills among its brands, and discount and clearance stock specialist M&M Direct, to pay their share of recycling packaging into Ireland.

Global sportswear giant Under Armour was also named, as well as Chinese firms Shein and Light in the Box, American firm Wish, and UK trade tools specialist Screwfix.

Repak said those and other firms “could act in a more corporate and socially responsible manner for the packaging waste they place on the market by contributing to its recycling cost” as Ireland’s online paper, cardboard and plastic waste has increased by 2,953 tonnes since 2019.


The 25 per cent increase is the equivalent of 15 million standard-sized parcels or nine parcels per each household — a “staggering” increase, according to Repak.

The organisation claimed it costs €1m per year to collect and recycle the packaging waste of international online retailers, “most of whom don’t pay a cent towards the recycling costs”.

Repak chief executive Séamus Clancy said: “In the last few years, some large international retailers, like Amazon, have come forward to play their part by becoming accountable for the packaging they place on the Irish market. However, there is a significant portion of overseas online retailers who continue to not contribute to the cost of recycling the packaging waste they place on the Irish market.

“Organisations like Sports Direct, Jack Wills,, Wish, Shein, Light in the Box, M&M Direct, Under Armour and many more are placing thousands of packages on the Irish market every week and don’t pay a penny towards the recycling costs. We are asking them to do the right thing on a voluntary bases rather than having to wait for legislation.”

These companies significantly over package goods and have no incentive to reduce the waste they generate, Mr Clancy said.

“They are outside the current legal system. This requires intervention from the Government, and we are pleased minister Eamon Ryan is going to examine an appropriate mechanism, in the Programme for Government, to ensure there is fairness for all in the retail sector.

“This could all be avoided if online retailers delivered their corporate, social and environmental responsibilities. Legislation should not be required to do the right thing."

More than 3,400 businesses, most of whom are domestic companies, pay for recycling the packaging waste generated online, Repak said.


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