How a more sustainable future is in the can


Next month in a bid to meet ambitious recycling targets set by the European Union’s ‘Single Use Plastic Directive’, Ireland will gear up for the launch of the Deposit Return Scheme. This groundbreaking initiative aims to revolutionise the way we handle plastic drinks’ bottles and aluminium cans, thereby promoting a ‘circular economy’ and reducing the impact of single-use plastics on the environment.

Under the EU directive, Ireland must separately collect 77% of plastic beverage bottles by 2025, reaching, it is hoped an ambitious 90% by 2029.

To achieve thiss, the Deposit and Return Scheme is being introduced, requiring consumers to pay a small fully refundable deposit when purchasing bottles or cans with the Re-turn logo. Costs will vary, from 15 cent for containers of 500ml or less to 25 cent for containers from 500ml up to 3 liters.

By attaching a monetary value to drink containers, the Deposit Return Scheme should incentivise consumers to return them, reducing litter and contributing to ‘a closed-loop recycling system’. The system should also ensure that by separately collecting drink containers, cross-contamination is eliminated, resulting in a higher quality of returns that can be more efficiently processed.

The onus will be on the retailer who will have the flexibility to choose between manual returns or automatic collection through Reverse Vending Machines, with the latter not being mandatory. The deposit will be paid on returning the empty container undamaged to any retailer selling drinks with the Re-turn logo.

The initiative represents “a pivotal shift from the traditional linear model of ‘take, make, dispose’ to a circular system that prioritises the return and recycling of valuable materials”. Currently, up to 70% of bottles and cans are recycled annually, resulting in an estimated loss of 600 million containers going unrecycled in Ireland each year.

The resulting 30% of plastic bottles and cans not being collected for recycling through green bins are adding to the growing litter problem.

Deposit return schemes have proven successful in more than 40 jurisdictions globally, with 13 European countries having the programme in place with more set to follow. The system should encourage us the consumer, to actively participate in recycling, contributing to Ireland’s efforts to meet EU recycling targets.

Containers eligible for the Deposit Return Scheme include PET plastic bottles, aluminium and steel cans. Glass containers and all dairy products are excluded from the scheme along with non-eligible items not featuring the Re-turn logo.

The management and operation of the Deposit Return Scheme will not cost the public or the Government any money. The system is to be self-funded through producer fees for each product placed on the market, “ensuring a sustainable and economically viable recycling solution”.

As we, the consumer, take this significant step towards “a more sustainable and circular future”, the Deposit Return Scheme promises not only to increase recycling rates but also to engage and encourage  us in the ongoing battle against single-use plastics.

Details of the scheme can be found on the official website , and a comprehensive FAQ section is available for consumers, retailers, and producers to help in the implementation of the upcoming changes.

T: 086 8362622


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