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How Retailers Can Prepare For The Deposit Return Scheme

By Donna Ahern
How Retailers Can Prepare For The Deposit Return Scheme

Ireland’s new deposit return scheme for bottles and cans launches on 1 February 2024.

Peter Whelan, sales manager for TOMRA Collection Ireland, looks at how retailers can prepare for the scheme.

Ireland’s new deposit return scheme is only a few months away and will represent a big change for retailers and the industry.

The scheme will see retailers play a key role in contributing to a more circular economy, as retailers will offer return points for drinks containers to be collected for recycling.

The scheme will start on 1 February 2024 and will see a refundable deposit placed on eligible PET plastic bottles and aluminium cans.

The deposit amount will be €0.15 for containers from 150ml to 500ml and €0.25 for containers over 500ml to 3 litres.

What is the retailers’ role in the new deposit return scheme?

Retailers will have a big role to play in the scheme, as it will be a ‘return to retail’ scheme.

This means that retailers will offer a return point for shoppers to return empty bottles and cans that are part of the scheme, and they will pay back the deposit to the consumer.

Retailers will also need to ensure that they are only selling drinks that are registered with the deposit return scheme operator, Re-turn.

All registered drinks will have a Re-turn logo on the packaging, to help identify them.

As a retailer, do I have to offer a return point?

Yes, all retailers that sell drinks on their premises (to take away) or that sell them online are legally required to offer a return point.

There may be some instances where retailers can apply for an exemption, based on considerations such as store size or food safety concerns.

Retailers should contact the deposit return scheme operator Re-turn for more information.

How should retailers be preparing for the scheme?

The scheme starts on 1 February 2024, so retailers should start preparing now if they have not already.

Firstly, retailers should register as a return point, which they can do via the Re-turn website.

Stores should also decide how they will accept returns – whether they will do it manually or by using a reverse vending machine.

If a retailer is planning to use a reverse vending machine, they should start thinking about where a machine could be placed in the store.

TOMRA offers machines as small as 0.6 square metres, reducing how much space is needed.

Do retailers get anything in return for offering a return point?

Retailers will receive a handling fee from the scheme administrator, Re-Turn, for every eligible container that they collect.

This handling fee is designed to compensate retailers for the cost of running the scheme and is designed to make the scheme cost neutral.

The handling fees are €0.022 per container for automated returns via a reverse vending machine and €0.026 per container for manual collection.

Why should retailers invest in a reverse vending machine?

Using a reverse vending machine has many benefits for retailers, both from an operational perspective and as a means of ensuring customer loyalty.

The benefits of using a reverse vending machine include saving space in store, saving store staff time, improving the accuracy of deposit pay-outs, and an easier returns process for shoppers.

We know from research in existing deposit return scheme markets that shoppers value a quick and easy returns process, and that a third of shoppers would switch stores if the return facilities didn’t meet their expectations.

What should I consider when choosing a reverse vending machine?

The first consideration should be the volume of eligible drinks containers that a retailer sells, as this gives a good indication of the expected volumes that will be returned.

The space available for a reverse vending machine, either inside the store or outside, is also a big factor.

Thirdly, whether the store has peak periods of high traffic should be considered, as more machines might be required to make sure that shoppers don’t have to wait long to return their containers.

Read More: Minister Smyth Tells Checkout Why Ireland Needs A Deposit Return Scheme

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