Consumers to receive up to 25 cent per bottle or can under new recycling scheme

Deposit Return Scheme aims to incentivise recycling of plastic and aluminium waste

Consumers will receive up to 25 cent per can or bottle they return under the Deposit Return Scheme, Minister of State Ossian Smyth has said.

The deposit for returning plastic bottles and aluminium cans of less than 500ml will be 15 cent, while those over 500ml will be 25 cent.

The scheme, which will be operated by non profit organisation return.ie, 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 will be installed in each location.

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

Mr Smyth pointed out that 1.9 billion bottles and cans are used in Ireland every year. 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.”

Mr Smyth said he was confident the scheme would encourage people to return bottles and cans which in turn 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 per cent of the amount paid out in returns.

Ireland generated 1,118,596 tonnes of packaging waste in 2020, a decrease of less than one per cent (6,321 tonnes) on 2019 and the fourth year in a row that Ireland generated over one million tonnes of packaging waste.

Of this, 306,000 tonnes was plastic (27 per cent), while 67,000 tonnes was metal (6 per cent), according to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The recycling rate for aluminium was 59 per cent in 2020, surpassing the 2025 EU target of 50 per cent and just below the 2030 EU target of 60 per cent.

However, the recycling rate for plastics was 29 per cent in 2020 (up from 28 per cent in 2019), meaning Ireland faces significant challenges in meeting the 2025 and 2030 EU plastic recycling targets of 50 per cent and 55 per cent. The EU average was 41 per cent in 2019.

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter