Joe O’Brien TD Welcomes Launch of Deposit Return Scheme to Boost Recycling of Drinks Containers
29th November, 2022
Joe O’Brien TD has today welcomed the launch of Ireland’s national Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).
It is estimated that about 1.9 billion drinks bottles and cans are consumed each year in Ireland, in-house and ‘on the go’. The Deposit Return Scheme aims to boost the recycling rate for these drinks containers by charging a small, refundable deposit for each plastic bottle or can.
The Scheme will include PET plastic bottles and aluminium and steel cans between 150ml and 3 litres. A deposit of 15c will apply to containers 500mls or less and a deposit of 25c for each container above 500ml.
The Scheme will be operated by Deposit Return Scheme Ireland CLG, trading as Re-turn, who were appointed in May 2022.
All producers and retailers are legally obliged to register with Re-turn. Registration is open from today at www.re-turn.ie.
Welcoming the Launch of the Scheme, Joe O’Brien said:
“A Deposit and Return Scheme is something that the Green Party campaigned on for many years before entering Government, and I’m delighted that we’re now delivering on this commitment. The Scheme launched this week has the potential to hugely increase the rate of recycling on drinks containers in Ireland, some 1.9 billion of which are used each year. We need to be serious about how we tackle plastic waste if we are to meet our objectives under the Single Use Plastics Directive, and this Scheme is an important step towards that.
“The initiative which will transform the way we think about empty drinks bottles and cans. The refundable deposit will boost the recycling rates of 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. By making drinks containers worth something, we also give people an incentive to collect and return litter – this could also be of great benefit to community groups in Fingal who do so much work in keeping our local areas clean.”
The Department of Environment, Climate, and Communications will work closely with Re-turn on the implementation of the Scheme, which will start immediately with the registration of producers and retailers. The planned ‘go-live’ date for consumers is February 2024.
Deposit Return Scheme:
The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) encourages people to recycle drink containers. It works by charging anyone who buys a drink a small deposit for the plastic bottle or can that it comes in. Customers get this money back when they return the container to a retailer or other collection point to be recycled.
The Deposit Return Scheme is a major project involving the development of complex IT, infrastructure and communication systems, which will be delivered by Re-turn over the course of 2023. This includes:
- design, procurement and implementation of a digital DRS platform;
- registration of producers and products;
- registration of retailers and other return point operators;
- sourcing and installation of reverse vending machines;
- procurement of contracts for the collection, processing and recycling of material; and
- design and delivery of a comprehensive communications and awareness programme for businesses and consumers.
Legal framework for the scheme:
The legal framework for the Deposit Return Scheme is the Separate Collection (Deposit Return) Regulations 2021 (SI 599 of 2021). Under the DRS Regulations, it is the responsibility of producers to establish the Deposit Return Scheme and to nominate an operator of the scheme for approval by the Minister.
On 31st May 2022, Minister Smyth received an application from Deposit Return Scheme Ireland CLG (Trading as Re-turn) to act as an approved body under the DRS Regulations. On 1st July 2022, Re-turn’s application was approved. Re-turn is a new, not-for-profit company set up by beverage producers. The approval is a vital foundational element for the project, giving Re-turn the legal standing to establish a deposit return scheme and commence formal engagement with producers, retailers and other operators.
Re-turn was launched today and the scheme is now open for registrations from producers and retailers.