Repak said it achieved all its EU recycling targets and successfully implemented the legislative change requirements of the Circular Economy Package (CEP) and the Programme for Government in 2020.

This was despite the challenging operational conditions caused by Covid-19.

The total amount of Repak funded material recovered and recycled in Ireland was 1.038 million tonnes last year.

This was up 2.9% increase on 2019 and surpassed the million tonne mark for the second time.

Despite the adverse effect Covid-19 had on businesses in Ireland, Repak said its member numbers increased from 3,407 to 3,414 by the end of 2020.

Repak last year was reappointed to operate the country's packaging compliance scheme for a further five-year period, from January 2021 to December 2025.

Today's report from Repak shows that overall recycling tonnage increased by 25,000 tonnes to 703,000 tonnes with all additional 25,000 tonnes coming from household and domestic recycling (324,000 tonnes).

Commercial recycling was unchanged from 2019 at 379,000 tonnes.

Repak said that Ireland achieved a total provisional forecast recovery rate of 98% last year and a recycling rate of 63.4% subject to EPA verification in due course.

It said that all key material categories performed strongly and surpassed current EU recycling targets: Glass 87% (EU target 60%) , Metal 70% (EU target 50%), Paper 79% (EU target 60%), Plastic 29.3% (EU target: 22.5%), Wood 61% (EU target 15%).

Repak's chief executive Séamus Clancy said that last year's recycling results reflected the changing circumstances the country faced.

Mr Clancy said an increase in packaging waste from the household sector reflected consumer buying and consumption patterns, while the commercial sector saw a reduction in waste generated, particularly in the hospitality sector, which was severely impacted by the pandemic.

"Throughout 2020, the Waste Industry Recovery Operators demonstrated tremendous resolve to ensure continuity of service and have thus achieved excellent results across all materials," the CEO said.

"With the support of Repak, they have shown an ability to rise to and overcome unforeseen operational difficulties, including higher generation and recycling of packaging waste, particularly in the household and bring bank sectors," he added.