Ireland introduces deposit return scheme to boost recycling

Earlier this month, the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) “Re-turn” was launched nationwide.  

There are approximately 1.9 billion bottles and cans consumed in Ireland every year. This scheme aims to boost the recycling rates of plastic bottles and aluminium cans. Re-turn adds a small deposit to drinks in plastic bottles and cans.

Customers can then claim the deposit back, in the form of a shop voucher or cash, when they recycle the cans and bottles in the Re-turn reverse vending machine.  

These Re-turn vending machines can be found in supermarkets and convenience stores across the country, such as Lidl, Aldi, Centra, Supervalu and more.

However, small shops may seek an exemption as they do not have the space. 

You can return your bottle or can to any Re-turn machine and it doesn’t have to be in the same shop you bought it in.  Bottles and cans that are part of the scheme will be labeled with the Re-turn logo.  

The deposit differs depending on the size of the drink. 150ml-500ml have a deposit of 15 cents, while 501ml-3L are 25 cents.  

The scheme is self-funding as the producers pay a fee to Re-turn for each container.  It was launched by the Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth.  

When launching the scheme, Smith said, “The Deposit and Return Scheme is an exciting new, circular initiative which will transform the way we think about empty drinks bottles and cans.

“The refundable deposit will incentivise us to return these containers so producers can make new bottles out of old bottles and new cans out of old cans, saving materials, energy and reducing litter,” he said.

Tony Keohane, chair of DRS Ireland, said, “Deposit return schemes are a proven success in over 40 other jurisdictions around the world, including 12 in Europe, and will help us reach our recycling targets.” 

Adam, a Shop Assistant in Tesco Express on Smithfield Square, said they’ve had some complaints about the price increase that comes with the deposit, but once it is explained most customers have been understanding.  

“Most people are actually using them, we’ve had people of all ages bringing the drinks back in for it,” he said.

“We get a lot of tourists in here, because of the hotels and hostels around, who don’t understand why they’re paying an extra 25 cents. But once we explain it’s a government thing and what it’s for they’re happy enough. 

“Some people are a bit smart about it at first, I’ve had two aggressive customers so far. But once it’s explained to them most people are okay about it. We told the regulars to just keep that 25 cents when they recycle it and then it’s really the same price.”  

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