March 13, 2018 2:11 pm Published by

VOICE and REPAK launch Community Grant to support Recycling Ambassador Programme

Pictured at the launch of the VOICE Recycling Ambassador Programme are Suzie Cahn, Project Manager, Minister Denis Naughten and Mindy O Brien, VOICE Co-ordinator

A new grant has been rolled out to help dislodge any remaining confusion about what goes in our recycling bins and will support local communities to do their part in meeting our national recycling responsibilities.

The grant scheme is part of a campaign to re-engage the public in recycling and will be run by VOICE – Ireland’s leading environmental ENGOs tackling waste – and will receive significant funding from Repak. [1]  We are asking community groups to engage in face-to-face conversations with their neighbours to clear up recycling confusion and to understand barriers individuals face by documenting their views through surveys.

The launch of the grant follows the success of VOICE’s Recycling Ambassador Programme (RAP) launched last November.

This programme has already reached 3,500 people in face to face workshops around the country which help clear up confusion about recycling.

The unique aspect of the Recycling Ambassador Programme is that an environmental campaigning charity is able bring questions and concerns from the environmental sector and the public straight back to a powerful collaborative group, which includes representatives from the government and industry. Mindy O’Brien, VOICE’s coordinator, has worked to get all the stakeholders at the table in support of the programme.

The recycling list was created by the Government, in consultation with industry, to give the Irish people one simple and clear message about recycling.

This list uses easily recognizable images of packaging found in Irish shops and homes, moving away from a focus on confusing recycling symbols used in the past.

VOICE is breaking very new ground due to the collaborative approach developed by VOICE coordinator Mindy O’Brien.  No past Government has worked with an ENGO involving other stakeholders in this way: to listen to the direct feedback from the public and to enable face to face education engagement about recycling. It signals a new approach for Government.

Pictured at the launch of the VOICE Recycling Ambassador Programme are Suzie Cahn, Project Manager, Minister Denis Naughten and Mindy O Brien, VOICE Co-ordinator


Suzie Cahn, the Manager of the Recycling Ambassador Programme, said:  

“Our ambassadors are getting to talk to people in local groups and work places, these people are giving us a very real insight into the struggles and barriers faced in households since recycling came online in Ireland.

“A lot of recycling information to date has confused the man on the street. Now people are saying to us, ‘Phew, finally I can understand what should go in my bin’.”

“We want people to know that we are here to listen to their questions about the new, clearer list. We can clarify questions raised at a recycling workshop with the regional waste offices, Repak or the waste industry representatives.”

“Answers from the waste industry go straight back to our 30 Ambassadors who then pass this detailed information onto the concerned public.”

“That’s a pretty exciting pipeline to be creating and may pave the way for other collaborations in the future to work together to find solutions to some very pressing problems.”

Mindy O’Brien, Coordinator of VOICE, said:

“Groups who are awarded this new grant will nominate a community coach to help their local area to get their recycling bins sorted and carry out activities that support the Recycling Ambassador Programme objectives of reducing contamination in the recycling bin and raising Irish recycling rates.”

Séamus Clancy, CEO Repak Ltd, said

“Repak is delighted to support a national scheme that encourages behavioural change in consumers when it comes to packaging recycling. We are delighted to partner with the Recycling Ambassador Programme, promoting best recycling practices and educating the public on what can and cannot go into the recycling bin.

The public are becoming more and more environmentally conscious and we hope the list will make recycling easier for people, reducing contamination in the recycling bin, which can be as high as 40% in some areas of Dublin.

Contamination averages 25% in the recycling bin nationwide, with Cork and Kerry leading the way at 15%.

We would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to our valued members whose contributions make our participation in schemes like RAP possible. We will continue to lend our support as this great initiative grows.”

[1] VOICE is rolling out a community grant this week as Repak get behind the Recycling Ambassador Programme with a fund of €42,000 to tackle the 28% rate of contamination in Irish recycling bins. 
[2] Latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, in Ireland can be found on this new section of the EPA’s website:


About VOICE: 
VOICE is a small environmental NGO which has been working in the Waste campaigning space for the last 20 years. VOICE is best known for the successful introduction of the plastic bag levy. Current campaigns include developing the Recycling Ambassador Programme, the Zero Waste Cashel pilot programme, the Conscious Cup Campaign and a Food Waste Home Economics education module pilot in secondary schools, and supporting the adoption of the waste reduction bill,  
About the Recycling Ambassador Programme (RAP)
RAP aims to increase Irelands recycling rates and reduce significantly the non-recyclable material being deposited into household recycling bins though a yearlong community-based social marketing and face to face education initiative with adults.
The programme is funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and is supported by the Regional Waste Offices, Repak and the Irish Waste Management Association and its members
The new community grant is funded by Repak and is available to community groups details of the grant can be found here
The government website for the new recycling list.
Addition information available:
In addition Repak publish a breakdown of some of the information about recycling in their annual reports.
In this Youtube interview by Suzie Cahn (of VOICE’s Recycling Ambassador Programme) with MRF manager- Des Crinion quotes percentages of what is in an average recycling bin in Ireland, along with the 30% or more contaminates.
45% paper
10% cardboard – rising due to online buying and boxes
5% plastic bottles
1.5-2% Pots tubs trays
1.5% tins
1.5% aluminum cans – high value item

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