Ireland’s deposit return scheme goes live

Deposit return scheme

Ireland’s nationwide deposit return scheme for plastic drink bottles and aluminium cans is now live.

The deposit return scheme (DRS) went live on 1 February. The DRS requires anyone who buys a drink in a plastic bottle or aluminium can featuring a Re-turn logo to pay a deposit which can be redeemed when returning the container empty and undamaged to a participating retailer.

A 15-cent deposit applies to containers between 150ml to 500mls, while a deposit of 25 cents applies to containers between 500ml and 3 litres.

The scheme administrator Re-turn previously said the “majority” of retailers who had registered for the DRS have set up their deposit return points.

The DRS, which the Irish government describes as a “fundamental building block of a circular economy”, is a commitment of the Programme for Government 2020.

Minister of State for Communications and the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth welcomed the launch of the DRS, calling it a “once-in-a-generation development” for the Irish beverage industry.

This is an exciting, new initiative which will boost recycling rates, greatly reduce litter, and improve the environment.

Smyth commented: “This is an exciting, new initiative which will boost recycling rates, greatly reduce litter, and improve the environment. We know DRSs work — they operate effectively in over 40 countries around the world, including 15 in Europe, where the average EU collection rate is 92%.

“By giving these containers a financial value, it incentivises consumers to return them. I think people in Ireland will really get behind this scheme and make it a great success; we saw this with the introduction of the plastic bag levy and the Euro.”

Amárach research, commissioned by scheme administrator Re-turn, showed that 82% of consumers supported the introduction of the DRS and 95% plan to engage with the scheme. 76% of consumers said they believe they can make a difference to the environment by recycling drink containers.

94% of those surveyed consider the impact their recycling behaviour will have on future generations at some level and 82% stated that the deposit placed on drink containers will incentivise them to return empty drinks.

When asked for their main reason for why the introduction of the DRS is a good idea, 48% of consumers said they believe the DRS will encourage or incentivise recycling while 33% believe it will reduce waste or litter.

However, research from Every Can Counts Ireland showed that 29% of consumers in Ireland are not confident about how to use the scheme.

36% of respondents said they were concerned they didn’t have enough space to store uncrushed drink containers. While 17% said there were too many steps to follow to participate in the DRS and they didn’t have time to return their cans and plastic bottles.

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