Press release

The Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans launched today will reduce litter and boost Ireland’s recycling rates

1st February 2024
Ossian Deposit Return Scheme

The Green Party has launched the most ambitious recycling campaign in twenty years as return points across the country will begin accepting bottles and cans that have a deposit paid on them.  

The Deposit Return Scheme launched by Minister Ossian Smyth today (February 1st), is a key step in reaching Ireland’s goal of recycling 90% of drinks containers by 2029. The scheme will take litter off our streets, reduce waste and move Ireland closer to a circular economy.

Ossian Smyth TD, Minister for the Circular Economy, explained the importance of the scheme;

“I am delighted to launch our national Deposit Return Scheme today. This is an exciting, new initiative which will boost recycling rates, greatly reduce litter, and improve the environment. It will get bottles and cans off our roadsides and beaches and contribute to the circular economy by turning waste drinks containers into new bottles and cans.

“We know deposit return schemes work — they operate effectively in over 40 countries around the world, including 15 in Europe, where the average EU collection rate is 92%. By giving these containers a financial value, it incentivises consumers to return them. I think people in Ireland will really get behind this scheme and make it a great success; we saw this with the introduction of the plastic bag levy and the Euro.  

The scheme is funded by a deposit of 15c on plastic bottles and cans of 500ml or less and 25c on containers larger than 500ml. This deposit is claimed by returning the containers to any participating store, even if they were bought in a different store. Consumers can choose between receiving the deposit as a store voucher or as cash.  During the first weeks of the scheme, people will notice that some bottles and cans have the Re-turn logo on them (which is how you will know a deposit has been paid) while older stock will have no deposit and logo.

It is estimated that 1.9 billion plastic bottles and cans are bought every year in Ireland. Over 4,000 retailers have signed up to participate in the scheme and 3,500 reverse vending machines are being installed across the country. Some stores that do not have machines will accept returned bottles and cans over the counter.

MEP Grace O’Sullivan, spoke about how she is working on bringing a similar scheme across Europe;

“Ireland currently generates more than double the EU average of plastic packaging waste and this costs Irish people twice - once at the shop’s till and again when you pay to have it taken away in your bin, not to mention the environmental cost of so much waste. The Deposit Return Scheme turns that model on its head and puts the consumer and nature first. In the EU, the Greens have introduced new measures to see deposit return schemes introduced in every EU country, so Ireland’s new initiative sets us out as a leader in the EU when it comes to action on plastic waste.”

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