Packaging waste generated from online shopping in Ireland increased by 2,953 tonnes, or 25%, this year, new data from Repak shows. 

Repak, which oversees recycling compliance, said this is the equivalent of 15 million standard sized parcels or nine parcels per each household. 

Repak said research it conducted among 2,600 shoppers revealed that at least six in ten consumers are buying more frequently from Irish retailers online.

Over 3,400 businesses, most of whom are domestic companies, are Repak members and they bear the costs for recycling the packaging waste generated by the online retailers who choose to evade their recycling responsibility.

Repak also said that 77% of consumers noted their recycling bin were filling up quicker in the last few months, while 69% said they will avail of Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals online this weekend.

The findings from the Repak consumer research also revealed that Irish consumers are conscientious when it comes to recycling packaging waste from online deliveries. 

98% of those polled say they take time to separate and recycle materials when each online delivery comes in. 

Today's survey also reveals that 95% of consumers think that online overseas retailers should contribute to Ireland's recycling bill.

Repak said it costs €1m a year to collect and recycle the packaging waste of international online retailers, most of whom do not pay anything towards this recycling costs.

It said it was calling on overseas online retailers who are generating packaging waste but are not contributing towards Irish recycling costs to act in a more corporate and socially responsible manner for the packaging waste they place on the market by contributing to its recycling cost. 

"We are asking these companies to do the right thing on a voluntary bases rather than having to wait for legislation," Repak said.

Séamus Clancy, CEO of Repak, said that some large international retailers, like Amazon, in recent years have come forward to play their part by becoming accountable for the packaging they place on the Irish market.

But Mr Clancy noted a significant portion of overseas online retailers continue not to contribute to the cost of recycling the packaging waste they place on the Irish market. 

"Unlike our Repak members, these companies significantly over package goods and have no incentive to reduce the waste they generate. They are outside the current legal system," the Repak boss said. 

"This requires intervention from the Government, and we are pleased Minister Ryan is going to examine an appropriate mechanism, in the Programme for Government, to ensure there is fairness for all in the retail sector," he said. 

"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," he stated.

"Regardless of the uncertainty that lies ahead in the immediate future for retail trading, the volume of waste packaging being placed on the Irish market by overseas online retailers continues to significantly increase. Ignoring this situation is unsustainable long term and cannot continue," Mr Clancy added.

In a statement, Environment Minister, Eamon Ryan, said the issue needs to be tackled in order to reduce the amount of packaging waste here and ensure retailers and producers here have a level playing field when it comes to competing with overseas and online only sellers.

"The Government's Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy sets out some important priority actions that I am taking to address packaging waste and free-riding," he said.

"Ending self-compliance as an option is an important step. This will mean all businesses that place packaging, packaging material or packaged products on the Irish market must join the existing producer responsibility or compliance scheme currently operated by Repak."

"I will do this by amending and updating the Packaging Regulations in the first half of 2021. I will ensure that distance sellers come within the existing compliance scheme too. They would then be required to join Repak directly, or appoint an entity in Ireland to join the scheme and meet their environmental obligations, as happens at present under waste tyres legislation."