What can you recycle?

160 containers of recycled waste were stopped in Rotterdam recently due to contamination

What can you recycle?

Photocall file photo

An investigation is under way after 160 containers of green bin waste from the Republic were stopped in Rotterdam en route to China due to contamination.

The failed shipments are estimated to have cost the waste industry in Ireland €500,000. Most of the shipments were returned to Ireland last month, while 51 were allowed to be reprocessed in The Netherlands.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Seamus Clancy, CEO of Repak, said that while recycling in Ireland has risen - from 15% of packaging to over 73% in 2016 - he said we cannot be complacent.

"The level of contamination under the regulations that is allowed to leave Ireland versus what goes through Ireland - there's a difference there," he said. "Government departments are working on that to get consistency.

"They're [the Dutch] not meddling, they're trying to drive standards."

Mr Clancy said that the issue isn't the level of contamination - rather that there is any level of contamination in the first place.

What can be recycled? 

Anything that is clean and dry can be recycled, according to Mr Clancy. Exceptions to this include nappies, food waste, polystyrene material and grass cuttings. 

Repak do not accept glass, though other waste management providers - Panda and Green Star - accept glass in certain circumstances.

On the issue of plastic bags, Mr Clancy said plastic bags can be put into the green bin but the technology needed to recycle them isn't up to scratch in Ireland.

"We have come on technology wise - we're the best in Europe - but that doesn't mean we need to be complacent."