Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme Builds Momentum: Over 5 Million Drinks Containers Collected Since Launch

·        Bumper Weekend (9th-10th March) with nearly 1 million drinks containers returned 

·        Ireland surpassed February’s total of 2 million drinks containers returned in first seven days of March  

·        Daily return numbers grow from thousands in early February to hundreds of thousands in March 

Re-turn, Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme has now collected over 5.6 million drinks containers since its launch on 1 February, with the first ten days of March reporting returns of over 3.6 million drinks containers alone. 

Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme Builds Momentum: Over 5 Million Drinks Containers Collected Since Launch

Ireland returned 2 million drinks containers in the entire month of February – it has already collected 3.6 million in the first 10 days of March, with nearly 1 million drinks containers returned over the weekend.  

This collection figure shows the Scheme’s growing momentum and the community’s strong support for sustainable recycling efforts. With over 1.9 million transactions now recorded and over 2300 Reverse Vending Machines now accessible across the country, the Scheme is advancing towards Ireland’s recycling targets. 

Ciaran Foley, CEO of Re-turn, commented on consumer support and the levels of returns over the last few weeks: “We are delighted with the number of plastic bottles and cans being returned by consumers 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 Scheme, which is a pivotal part of Ireland’s strategy to meet and exceed EU recycling targets, has seen a significant uptake in participation, setting a positive trajectory for future collections and environmental impact. 

Further Guidance 

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

The hospitality sector is split between on-site consumption and off-site consumption. Businesses that predominantly cater for onsite consumption do not have to charge a deposit for in scope products. The rationale for this is that the empty containers remain on premises and are collected on-site. It is up to each establishment to determine whether or not to charge the deposit. If a deposit is charged, the consumer can take their container off site. If the deposit is not charged, then the business is responsible for collecting the containers and taking them to a Return Point Operator to reclaim their deposit. 

How will I get my deposit back?  

Consumers will receive their deposit back when they return the empty and undamaged plastic bottle or aluminium can, that incurred a deposit, to participating shops and supermarkets nationwide.  

If through a reverse vending machine, consumers will be issued a voucher that can be redeemed at the till against store purchases or as a cash refund. If over the counter, retailers will check the drinks container features the Re-turn logo and is undamaged and then provide a refund. 

Where can I return my bottle and cans? 

Consumers can return their empty undamaged plastic bottles and cans to participating shops and supermarkets nationwide either through a Reverse Vending Machine or manually, over the counter.  

Drinks containers without the Re-turn logo but have incurred a deposit must be returned through a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM). As manual return points rely on checking for the Re-turn logo, they cannot identify containers that have incurred a cost without a logo. Starting from June 1st, all in-scope drinks containers will feature the Re-turn logo. 

To locate the nearest deposit return point, individuals can visit the Re-turn ‘Where To Return’ map. 

This map is accessible either by scanning a QR code on Take Back Exemption certificates in stores or supermarkets or by visiting

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 Reverse Vending Machine Deposit Return Points nationwide.  

Starting February 1, 2024, retailers have a 4-month transition period during which they can sell both new drinks containers with the Re-turn logo and older drinks containers that do not feature this logo. During this time, drinks containers can incur a deposit in two ways:

·       By having the Re-turn logo with a registered barcode  

·       By having a barcode that is registered as part of the Scheme without the Re-turn logo.  

During the transition period, there will be old drink containers without a logo and with barcode not registered with the Scheme; these drinks containers will not incur a deposit charge. 

From June 1, all drinks containers included in the Scheme will feature the Re-turn logo and barcode. If a consumer is in any doubt about whether their container is eligible for a refund on a deposit, they can visit to verify.  

Are multipacks part of this Scheme? 

All new multi-packs with the Re-turn logo will now feature barcodes on each container and will be subject to a deposit which is fully refunded when each container is returned.

Multi packs that do not feature the Re-turn logo and do not have barcodes on individual cans should not be charged a deposit on these items. 

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

No, there is no maximum number of drinks bottles or cans that you can return in one visit.   

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

The bottle can be returned with or without the bottle cap. In the interest of recycling, it is preferred that the bottle be returned with the cap. 

What is not included in the Scheme? 

Not every drinks container is eligible for Deposit Return. Only drinks containers in PET plastic bottles, aluminium & steel cans from 150ml to 3 litres are included in the Scheme. All drinks containers included in the Scheme will feature the Re-turn logo. 

Items that are not included in the deposit return Scheme include:

·       Any dairy drinks products in plastic containers or cartons e.g. milk, yogurt drinks 

·       Steel and tin cans that contain foodstuffs  

·       Containers for cleaning supplies 

These items should continue to be disposed of in a recycling bin.  

Glass drinks containers are also not included in the Scheme and should be recycled as usual and brought to a glass and bottle bank. 

Why did Ireland launch a Deposit Return Scheme?  

The Deposit Return Scheme is a practical circular economy initiative that aims to create a closed loop recycling system guaranteeing the 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. This target will rise to 90% in 2029. We currently recycle approximately 60% of drinks containers and Deposit Return is a proven method of increasing recycling rates, with great success in several other European countries. 

Re-turn has created an FAQ page on the website for any questions which consumers or retailers may have, and they are strongly encouraged to reach out to if they have any further queries.

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