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A deposit return scheme for cans and plastic bottles begins today; here's all you need to know

When returning a container, people will have the option to receive their refund as a discount on a purchase in the shop, or in cash.

A NEW RECYCLING scheme for plastic bottles and cans begins today that will see customers who buy products that use them pay an extra deposit for the container.

From today, cans and plastic bottles with the “Re-turn” logo can be taken back to a participating retailer, where a deposit can be collected as long as they are empty, undamaged and in their original shape. They can be returned with or without the lid. 

Containers of 150mls to 500mls will come with a 15 cent deposit, while containers between 500mls and 3 litres will cost an extra 25 cents at the till. 

Glass containers and anything containing dairy products are not included in the scheme. 

Returning a can or bottle will involve bringing it to a return centre at participating retailer and getting your money back. Many retailers will have Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs), which will take the container and dispense a voucher that can be exchanged for cash.  

When returning a container, people will have the option to receive their refund as a discount on a purchase in the shop, or in cash.

The scheme will be operated by Deposit Return Scheme Ireland CLG, trading as Re-turn, which was appointed back in the summer of 2022. 

Re-turn expects to have about 2,000 return centres up and running as of today. 

Screenshot 2024-01-31 175508 The re-turn logo to look out for. Re-turn Re-turn

Minister for State Ossian Smyth said the scheme would “boost recycling rates, greatly reduce litter, and improve the environment”. 

Smyth pointed to successful examples of similar deposit return schemes in 40 other countries, including 15 in the EU.

“By giving these containers a financial value, it incentivises consumers to return them,” he said, adding that the new scheme represented “a once-in-a-generation development for the Irish beverage industry”. 

Smyth added that he’s been “waiting for this day” and that it will be “very popular with the public”.

He also noted that in a second phase of the scheme, people may be able to donate the money to charity or local GAA clubs and that there will be machines at County Council buildings or community centres.

Smyth described it as an “enormous project” that will “take in a million euro a day of deposits”.

And while he acknowledged that this will be a “change of behaviour” for many, he added that there is a “high level of support for it”.

Smyth also noted that other countries failed to implement the scheme because they didn’t “bring people with them”.

“You have to get the support of the general public, you have to get the shops on side as well,” said Smyth.

“The message to everyone is ‘bring it back’,” added Smyth, who also expressed hope that the scheme will lead to a “more beautiful countryside” and that most of the cans and bottles that are discarded as rubbish “will be gone”.

From 1 June, all stock not branded with the Re-turn logo will be phased out of shops and consumers will only be able to buy drinks with a deposit attached.

“So every can and every bottle in the shop will be recyclable,” said Smyth. 

To find your nearest return centre, you can visit the Re-turn website here.

-With additional reporting from Sadbh Cox

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