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Deposit Return Scheme Reports Over 5 Million Containers Collected So Far

By Sarah O'Sullivan
Deposit Return Scheme Reports Over 5 Million Containers Collected So Far

Over 5.6 million drinks containers have been collected across Ireland since the launch of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) on 1 February.

Re-turn, the company implementing the scheme, reported the findings on Tuesday.

3.6 million drinks containers were collected in the first 10 days of March. This is nearly double the 2 million collected in all of February.

Re-turn also reported that nearly 1 million containers were returned on the weekend of 9-10 March alone.

Following some initial “teething issues”, the current figures suggest the scheme is gaining momentum as retailers and customers become accustomed to it.


Over 1.9 million transactions have been recorded on over 2300 reverse vending machines (RVMs). This suggests that the scheme is advancing towards its targets.

Speaking about the recent figures, chief executive of Re-turn Ciaran Foley welcomed customer support and the levels of returns over recent weeks.

Foley said, “We are delighted with the number of plastic bottles and cans being returned by customers nationwide and it really shows the support for this initiative.

“We’ve gone from collecting thousands of bottles a day to now bringing back hundreds of thousands.

“It’s a clear sign that our efforts to encourage recycling and support Ireland’s environmental goals are resonating.”


The DRS was implemented to help reach EU recycling goals of 90% recycled plastic bottles and aluminium cans by 2029.

Re-turn has offered further guidance as new questions have come up since the scheme launched nationwide.

What if I purchase a drinks container in a restaurant, café or canteen?

The hospitality sector is split between on-site consumption and off-site consumption. Businesses that predominantly cater for on-site consumption do not have to charge a deposit for relevant products. This is because it is more likely that the empty containers will be collected and disposed of on site.

It is up to each establishment to decide whether or not to charge customers a deposit. The businesses will be charged a deposit themselves for selling relevant containers. If a deposit is charged to the customer, they can take their container off site. If the deposit is not charged, then the business is responsible for collecting containers and returning them to reclaim their deposit.

How will I get my deposit back?

Consumers will get their deposit back when they return the empty and undamaged container that incurred a deposit to a participating shop or supermarket.


If using an RVM, consumers will be issued a voucher. This can be redeemed at the till against store purchases or as a cash refund. If returning over the counter, staff will check that the container has a Re-turn logo and is undamaged and then provide the refund.

Where can I return my bottles and cans?

Undamaged bottles and cans can be returned at participating retailers across the country. This can be done either through an RVM or over the counter.

Drinks containers without the Re-turn logo but that incurred a deposit must be returned through the RVM. Manual return points rely on checking the Re-turn logo, and cannot identify if a deposit has been charged without it.

Starting 1 June, all containers that incur a charge will include the Re-turn logo.

To find the nearest return point, consumers can check the Re-turn ‘Where to Return’ map. This is accessed on the website or by scanning the QR code displayed on the exemption certificate in non-participating stores.


My drinks container did not have a Re-turn logo on it, but I was still charged a deposit. Why?

Should consumers be charged a deposit on a drinks container, please be assured that you will get your deposit back when you return it empty and undamaged to RVMs nationwide.

Starting 1 February, retailers have a 4 month period to sell both new containers with the Re-turn logo and older stock from before the change that do not feature the logo. During this period, drinks containers can incur a deposit charge in two ways. First, by having the Re-turn logo with a registered barcode, and second by having a barcode that is registered to the scheme without the Re-turn logo.

During the transition, there will also be drinks containers sold that do not have the logo nor a registered barcode. These containers will not incur a deposit charge.

If you are in any doubt as to whether you were charged a deposit, check the barcode on

Are multipacks part of the scheme?


All new multipacks with the Re-turn logo will now feature barcodes on each container and will be subject to a deposit which is fully refunded when the container is returned. Multipacks that do not feature the Re-turn logo will not have individual barcodes and so no deposit will be charged.

Is there a maximum number of containers that can be returned at one time?


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

Do I need the bottle cap for the bottle to return it?

The bottle can be returned with or without the cap. It is recommended to include the cap both to recycle it and better protect the bottle from damage, but it is not necessary.

What is not included in the scheme?

The scheme does not apply to every drinks container sold. Only PET plastic bottles, aluminium and steel cans from 150ml to 3L are included in the scheme. From 1 June, all containers included in the scheme will have the Re-turn logo on them.

Items that are not included in the scheme include any dairy drinks products in plastic containers such as milk or yoghurt drinks, steel and tin cans that contain foodstuffs, and containers for cleaning supplies.

These items should be disposed of in a recycling bin. Glass containers too are not part of the scheme and should be properly disposed of in bottle banks.

Why is Ireland launching the Deposit Return Scheme?

The DRS is a circular economy initiative that aims to implement a closed loop recycling system to guarantee material is returned and recycled. The EU has set Ireland a target to separate and collect 77% of plastic beverage bottles and aluminium cans by 2025, rising to 90% in 2029.

Ireland currently recycles approximately 60% of drinks containers and the DRS is a proven method of increasing recycling rates, as seen in other European countries.

Re-turn has an FAQ page on their website for any more questions consumers and retailers might have about the scheme.

Read More: Aldi Ireland Shares DRS Tips After 480,000 Drinks Containers Returned

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