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The Deposit Return Scheme Is Live – Now What?

By Sarah O'Sullivan
The Deposit Return Scheme Is Live – Now What?

Re-Turn, which is implementing the new scheme, has issued guidance for consumers, now that it is live.

On 1 February, the deposit return scheme (DRS) went live in Ireland. The scheme means that plastic bottles and aluminium or steel cans of a 150ml-3L capacity will have a small deposit applied at the time of purchase.

Customers can then return the empty, undamaged containers for either a refund of the deposit or use the amount to offset the price of their shopping.

The scheme has been in the works since 2021 and requires a change in consumer behaviour.

Now that the scheme is under way, here is what consumers need to know.


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

If you are charged a deposit at the time of purchase, you will get your deposit back when you return the empty, undamaged container.

Due to the scale of the roll-out, stores have a four-month grace period to sell old stock ordered before the Re-Turn logo was implemented. That means that, until 31 May, retailers can still sell this unlabelled stock.

Containers can be returned if they have a registered bar code and the Re-Turn logo, or a registered bar code without the logo.

During the transition period, old drinks containers without a logo and with a bar code not registered to the scheme may still be sold. These will not incur a deposit charge.


Anyone who pays a deposit on a drinks container, with or without a logo, will receive a refund of the deposit when they return the empty undamaged container to a collection point.

If you have any doubt about whether a container is eligible for a refund on a deposit, you can check the bar code at  to verify it.

Where can I return my bottles and cans?

Consumers can return empty, undamaged bottles and cans to participating retailers, regardless of where the drink was originally purchased.

They can be returned at the checkout or through a reverse vending machine (RVM). If using an RVM, insert all Re-Turn drinks containers as instructed, and you will be issued with a voucher.


The voucher can be redeemed at the returning store only. It can be used to offset the price of shopping or for a cash refund.

If a retailer cannot accommodate you, he/she/they will direct you to the nearest return location.

Re-Turn also has an interactive map that can be used to find your nearest return point, either through your county or Eircode.

Retailers have taken their own approaches to the scheme – you can have a look at Checkout’s breakdown of popular retailer approaches.

Do I have to return my drinks containers to the shop where I bought them?


No. Consumers can return drinks to any participating store, regardless of where the container was originally purchased or the deposit originally paid.

Make sure that the container is empty and undamaged, with a clear and visible bar code. If the container is damaged or the bar code cannot be read, it may not be possible to return the container.

If the container is returned through an RVM, the voucher must be used in the store to which you returned the container.

There is no maximum to the amount of containers that you can return in a single visit.

What do I do if the reverse vending machine is not in service?

If the RVM is not working, please notify the retailer, so the issue can be resolved.

Does this work for self-checkout stations in shops?

Some retailers may offer this feature, but please check with your local retailer when you visit.

How do I use the voucher issued by the RVM?

The voucher issued by the RVM must be redeemed at the same store to which you returned the containers. This voucher can be redeemed at the till, either for cash or against store purchases.

Why is Ireland launching the deposit return scheme?

The deposit return scheme is a practical circular-economy initiative that aims to create a closed-loop recycling system.

The EU has set Ireland a target to collect and recycle 77% of plastic beverage bottles and aluminium cans by 2025. This will rise to 90% in 2029.

Ireland currently recycles 60% of drinks containers, and the DRS is a proven method of increasing recycling rates that has seen great success across Europe.

Have another question?

Re-Turn has an FAQ page on its website, with some other commonly asked questions. If you are still searching for answers, reach out to Re-Turn at [email protected] for any more queries.

Read More: No Bottles Or Cans Purchased Before 1 February Eligible For Deposit Return Scheme

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