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Plastic from Wicklow’s Recycling Centres returns as litter refuse bags

Wicklow County Council is supporting the development of plastics recycling in Ireland aiming to increase the amount of our plastics reprocessed in Ireland rather than exporting our plastic for recycling.

The Council now sends plastics from our five recycling centres to Shabra Plastics & Packaging in Monaghan who use some of that material to make the green litter bags that are used in our street bins and by groups doing litter clean-up events.

It means that the Council supplies the raw material to make the bags which are then used in our services.

Commenting on the development, Cllr Shay Cullen, Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, said: “It is great to see the processing of recycling plastics is increasingly happening at home, securing jobs in Ireland while ensuring the highest standards in the processing of those materials. I am delighted to see the waste generated in this county being remade into a product that Wicklow County Council can use on a daily basis”.

Working with Shabra Plastics Wicklow County Council are creating a circular economy with resources collected from the public in recycling centres coming back for use in the Council’s own work programmes.

Shabra Plastics sort the plastics Wicklow County Council sorting them into plastic-type and quality. All of the plastics from Wicklow that go to Shabra remain in Ireland for further processing and manufacturing.

In addition, several packaging and plastics manufacturers now use the plastics from Wicklow’s recycling centres to make their products. Companies that use Wicklow’s plastics after sorting and processing by Shabra include Waddingtons in Arklow, Holfields in Wexford and the Quinn group.

The plastics are manufactured into a diverse range of packaging materials including bags, containers and trays.

Irish companies are increasingly looking at the carbon emissions impacts of their process as well as responding to consumer demand for sustainable products. There is a growing market for good quality plastics so that manufacturers can increase the recycled content in their packaging.

The Wicklow recycling centres produce a high-quality recycling material which is due to the effort the public put into cleaning and separating materials for recycling ensuring that plastic, as with other materials, is of the highest quality suitable for remaking into new materials.

Wicklow County Council received its first batch of recycled bags this month from Shabra Plastics and was delighted with their strength and quality. “As part of local government s commitment to lead on Climate Action we are looking at the resources we use,” said Jim Callery, Environmental Awareness Officer, adding: “Greening our procurement is part of that process. Through green procurement, we can improve the sustainability of our purchases lowering consumption of virgin materials and as an important added bonus we support Irish jobs.”

Mr Andrew Lawless of Wicklow Tidy Towns said that the public has long had concerns about the export of our waste plastic to distant countries for recycling.  He stated: “It is lovely to see a closed-loop where plastic waste from Wicklow can be made into a product to be used again in the County. Wicklow Tidy Towns is delighted to be the first volunteer group in County Wicklow to try out the new bags for the work we do in Wicklow Town”.

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