The Aran Islands Co-op Recycling Project (Athchursail Árann) has been awarded the top prize at the 2019 Pakman Awards.
It won the Overall Pakman Award for its innovative and exceptional work transforming the waste management and recycling infrastructure on the Aran Islands.
The islands are Special Areas of Conservation under EU law.
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.
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.
It also created 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, TD 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.”