Q&A: How will the new Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles and cans work?

Q&A: How will the new Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles and cans work?

Mick Dunne and Betzy Nina Sandia trying out the new yellow recycling bins in Dublin. Details of a new scheme to encourage people to recycle their drinks bottles and cans have been announced. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

What is the new Deposit Return Scheme?

The country's new Deposit Return Scheme, operated by non-profit organisation Return.ie, is being brought in to encourage greater recycling of plastic bottles and cans. When the scheme launches, you will pay a small deposit on top of the price of certain drinks. When you return the empty, undamaged container, you get your deposit back in full. You can choose to get your deposit back in cash, redeem it against a new purchase, or opt to donate to charity.

How much will the deposit be?

The deposit for returning bottles and cans under the scheme will be 15c for cans and bottles with a capacity of under 500ml, and 25c for those above 500ml.

Where can you return empty containers to?

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. Containers can be returned to any participating shops, and not just where the container was initially bought. 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.

Is every drink container eligible for a deposit return?

Customers get their money back when they return the container to a retailer or other collection point to be recycled. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie
Customers get their money back when they return the container to a retailer or other collection point to be recycled. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

No, not every drink container will be eligible for a deposit return. Only drinks in plastic bottles and aluminium and steel cans from 150ml to 3ltr 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.

Why has the scheme been introduced?

Ossian Smyth pointed out that 1.9bn 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. He 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 are worth money, and the scheme would pay for itself, he added. 

Supermarkets and shops would be encouraged to participate, as they would receive 10% of the amount paid out in returns. 

Speaking on RTÉ, he said: “It’s the same as when you arrive at a supermarket and you need a trolley and you put it in a coin. You put down a deposit and you get it back when you return the trolley.”

"It’s a deposit on the bottle. You get it back when you return it. In order to get the money back, you go back to any shop — it doesn’t have to be the one you bought it in — and you will put it into a machine and they will issue you with a ticket.

“You can choose to spend it in the shop if you want, or you can choose to have cash, or you can give it to a charity. You’ll have those options on the machine.”

When is it being introduced?

The scheme is being rolled out over the next two years and will be fully operational by 2024, but it is already in operation in a number of locations.

Lidl Ireland has been operating a Deposit Return Scheme trial at two stores for the last year and has collected more than three-quarters of a million plastic bottles and aluminium cans from customers, and paid out more than €68,000 in Lidl vouchers.

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