New scheme will pay households to return plastic bottles and cans

New scheme will pay households to return plastic bottles and cans

From February 2024, when you buy a drink in a plastic bottle or can that features the Re-turn logo, you will pay a small deposit of on top of the price of the drink. When you return the empty, undamaged container, you get your deposit back in full. Picture: Jonathan Pow/PA Wire

A new deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and cans has been announced this morning by Minister Ossian Smyth.

The scheme will be operated by non-profit organisation Return.ie.

From February 2024, in shops where you buy a drink in a plastic bottle or can that features the Re-turn logo, you will pay a small deposit of on top of the price of the drink.

When you return the empty, undamaged container, you get your deposit back in full.

There will be return points all across Ireland and anywhere that sells drinks with the Re-turn logo must accept your return and refund your deposit in cash or against other purchases. 

However, not every drink container will be eligible for a deposit return.

Only drinks in plastic bottles and aluminum and steel cans from 150ml to 3 litres are included in the scheme.

Dairy products, for example milk and yoghurt drinks, will not have a Re-turn logo and cannot be returned, but should still be recycled.

This morning, Minister of State Ossian Smyth announced that the deposit for returning bottles and cans under the new scheme will be 15c for cans and bottles of less than 500ml and 25c for those above 500ml.

The scheme will be rolled out across the country during the coming months but is already in operation in a number of locations in Dublin and Cork, Mr Smyth told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.

Supermarkets and shops will have to register with Return.ie, which is run by the bottling companies, he said. A machine for returns would be installed in each location.

Mr Smyth pointed out that 1.9 billion bottles and cans are used in Ireland every year. He said there needed to be an incentive to get people to return or recycle such items and this scheme would do that.

It will be the same as getting a trolley, you pay a deposit and when you return it you get a refund.

On returning a bottle or can to a machine instore, the customer will receive a ticket which they can spend in store or get cash or opt to contribute to a charity.

Mr Smyth said he was confident the scheme would encourage people to return bottles and cans which would mean less litter. People would not leave bottles and cans on the ground as they would be worth money.

The scheme would pay for itself, he added. Supermarkets and shops would be encouraged to participate as they would receive ten percent of the amount paid out in returns.

According to the Re-turn website, deposit return schemes have been "very successful in reducing litter" internationally.

Re-turn is hoping this form of recycling will help to tackle climate change and their aim is to "protect our communities and create a healthy and positive footprint for future generations."

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