The Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project (Athchursail Árann) was last night awarded the top prize at the 2019 Pakman Awards, the Overall Pakman Award, for its innovative and exceptional work transforming the waste management and recycling infrastructure on the Aran Islands, which have Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) status under the EU Natural Habitats Directive.
The awards ceremony, which took place at the InterContinental Dublin Hotel, saw 400 representatives from leading businesses, organisations and community groups come together to recognise excellence in recycling and waste management. All 14 category winners on the night were automatically put forward for the overall Pakman Award, won by Athchursail Árann.
About Athchursail Árann
Over the last 20 years, the Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project has successfully transformed the waste management and recycling infrastructure on the Aran Islands by eliminating three landfill sites on the islands and creating a community-run kerbside recycling system for both dry packaging and compost. As part of the recycling project, dry recyclables are baled and sent to Galway; food and organics are composted; and residual waste is examined for reuse projects. Reuse projects on the islands include glass being crushed for use as aggregates for concrete; timber being shredded to go into compost; and bulky items, such as old windows, being stored for reuse on agricultural and garden sheds. The Galway Island organisation also won the ‘Community Recycling Initiative’ category on the night.
Presenting the final award Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, T.D. said: “As set out in the Climate Action Plan, managing our resources efficiently is crucial as we move towards a more sustainable, resilient society. We must step up – 70% of food waste is avoidable, half of the material we use is not being segregated properly, two thirds of plastic used is not on the recycling list and labels are confusing. Under the Climate Action Plan, we will end the use of non-recyclable plastic, halve food waste, ban a number of single-use plastics and cut dependence on landfill by 60%.
The businesses, community groups and organisations being recognised here tonight have shown the impact we can have through careful use of resources. They have set an example for others to follow and I’d encourage others to follow their lead and take action. In particular, I would of course like to extend a special congratulations to Athchursail Árann who have had a transformative impact on the Aran Islands.”
Coca Cola won the inaugural ‘Repak Plastic Pledge Member of the Year’ category. The new category was open to any of over 90 Repak members who have signed the Plastic Pledge, committing to achieve specific objectives relating to reducing plastic packaging and increasing the recyclability of packaging. Coca Cola topped the category by demonstrating its outstanding commitment to these objectives, including becoming the first water brand in Ireland to introduce 100% recyclable bottles, reducing plastic levels in all bottles by 7.5%, achieving 40% recycled PET integration across its plastic portfolio, and investing significantly in PET recycling facilities.
Castletroy College in Limerick was also a big winner on the night, picking up two awards: ‘The Environmental Education and Awareness Initiative’ award and ‘Battery Champion’. Teachers at the 1,200-pupil school in Limerick successfully integrated high quality educational material into their Junior Cycle curriculum to raise awareness of the circular economy and the importance of recycling e-waste. Thanks to this programme, in 2019 the school collected 10,715kg of WEEE, collected and reused 68.5kgs of electronics, and was placed 1st in the European wide EIT KIC Raw Materials School Competition.
University College Cork (UCC) won the ‘Innovation in Waste Resource Products or Services’ award, sponsored by Ibec, and will now be considered for entry into the 2020 European Business Awards for the Environment. Should UCC be nominated for the European award, it will represent Ireland at Europe’s premier awards programme for sustainable businesses.
Other winners on the night included Burger-Joint, Bujo in Dublin, picking up the ‘Food Waste Management’ for its exemplary recycling of 95% of its food waste to energy and various other innovative initiatives; RTÉ, for the ‘Business Recycling Champion’ award; and Dillion Waste for the ‘Green Transport of the Year’ award.
Speaking at the Pakman Awards, Seamus Clancy, CEO of Repak said:
“Tonight, we celebrate those who have demonstrated excellence in recycling and waste management from a wide variety of companies, communities and industries across Ireland. The Pakman Awards highlight the importance of continually striving to improve environmental performance and provide a benchmark for others to follow.”
We live in an era when recycling and waste management are of paramount importance to the public, businesses, the Irish government and the EU. The world’s attention is now focused on the health of our ecosystem, what we can do to reverse climate change, and how we can minimise our environmental impact. The winners and nominees in the 2019 Pakman Awards are some our nation’s best examples of the great work being done to tackle these issues. They have evolved to not only meet the new expectations placed on them by society and government, but they are setting the standards both nationally and internationally on what excellence in waste management and recycling looks like in 2019. If Ireland is to reach its future EU recycling targets, it is crucial that we continue to collectively support such initiatives and promote positive behavioural change in Ireland.
This year, we had a record 137 entries, the highest number ever submitted to the Pakman Awards and, more importantly, the standard has been exceptional. I would like to commend all the winners and nominees for their fantastic work, with particular congratulations to the Athchursail Árann as the recipient of the 2019 Overall Pakman Award.”
Click here to view the full list of 2019 winners.