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Deposit return scheme has collected over 5.6 million drinks containers since 1 February

Cans and bottles must then be returned empty and undamaged in order to reclaim a deposit.

RE-TURN, THE OPERATORS of the Deposit Return Scheme, has now collected over 5.6 million drinks containers since 1 February. 

The system has been adopted here as part of an EU-wide directive on single-use plastics which has set a recycling target for plastic bottles of 77% by 2025.

A 15 cent charge – which is seen as a ‘deposit’ – has been added to aluminium and steel cans and plastic bottles up to 500ml, while a 25 cent deposit has been added to those that are 500ml and over.

The cans and bottles must then be returned empty and undamaged in order to reclaim this deposit.

This can be done either over the counter or through the use of a Reverse Vending Machine.

Originally, consumers were told the containers must feature the Re-turn logo. However, Re-turn clarified last month that some containers which don’t contain a logo will incur a deposit which can then be reclaimed.

Re-turn has today issued further clarification relating to the scheme. 

In relation to purchasing a drinks container in a restaurant, cafe or canteen, Re-turn said the hospitality sector is split between on-site consumption and off-site consumption.

Businesses that predominantly cater for onsite consumption do not have to charge a deposit for in scope products, it said. 

“The rationale for this is that the empty containers remain on premises and are collected on-site. It is up to each establishment to determine whether or not to charge the deposit. If a deposit is charged, the consumer can take their container off site.

“If the deposit is not charged, then the business is responsible for collecting the containers and taking them to a Return Point Operator to reclaim their deposit,” Re-turn said. 

Starting from 1 February, when the scheme was introduced, retailers have a four-month transition period during which they can sell both new drinks containers with the Re-turn logo and older drinks containers that do not feature this logo.

In this interim period, drinks containers can incur a deposit either by having the Re-turn logo with a registered barcode, or by having a barcode that is registered as part of the scheme but without featuring the Re-turn logo.

The spokesperson added that during this period, there will be old drink containers without a logo and with a barcode that is not registered to the scheme – these drinks containers will not incur a deposit charge.

From 1 June, all drinks containers included in the scheme will feature the Re-turn logo.

Meanwhile, Re-turn has said that drink containers don’t have to be returned to the shop they were bought from and can be returned to any participating retailer.

However, vouchers issued from a Reverse Vending Machine must be redeemed at the same retail outlet and vouchers can be redeemed in cash or against a store purchase at the till.

It has also been confirmed that new multi-packs with the Re-turn logo will now feature barcodes on each container and will be subject to a deposit which is fully refunded when each container is returned.

Multi-packs that do not feature the Re-turn logo and do not have barcodes on individual cans should not be charged a deposit on these items, it said. 

There is no maximum number of drinks bottles or cans that you can return in one visit.  

The bottle can be returned with or without the bottle cap. In the interest of recycling, it is preferred that the bottle be returned with the cap.

Not every drinks container is eligible for Deposit Return. Only drinks containers in PET plastic bottles, aluminium & steel cans from 150ml to three litres are included in the scheme. All drinks containers included in the scheme will feature the Re-turn logo.

Items that are not included in the deposit return Scheme include:

  • Any dairy drinks products in plastic containers or cartons e.g. milk, yogurt drinks
  • Steel and tin cans that contain foodstuffs
  •  Containers for cleaning supplies

These items should continue to be disposed of in a recycling bin.

Glass drinks containers are also not included in the Scheme and should be recycled as usual and brought to a glass and bottle bank.

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