Manufacturing & Supply Chain

Deposit Return Scheme surpasses 20 million drinks containers collected since launch

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Deposit Return Scheme surpasses 20 million drinks containers collected since launch

Deposit Return Scheme surpasses 20 million drinks containers collected since launch
April 04
10:00 2024
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Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme, Re-turn, has achieved a significant milestone, collecting over 20 million drinks containers since its inception on February 1. This achievement was reached on March 29. Re-turn recorded its highest daily collection rate to date on Friday, March 29, with 1.2 million drink containers (1,267,178) returned. This surge in collections underscores the public’s increased participation and support for the scheme.

More than 2.2 million drink containers were collected during the long St. Patrick’s weekend alone (March 16–18). With 2,300 Reverse Vending Machines now operational across the country, Re-turn has facilitated over 6.89 million transactions, illustrating the scheme’s widespread acceptance and effectiveness.

Benchmarking Success in the Early Stages

At this early stage, Re-turn’s performance is tracking well against similar deposit return schemes in the EU. Slovakia, with a scheme launched in January 2022, serves as a close benchmark due to comparable models and population sizes.

In its first month, Slovakia collected 264,000 containers, while Ireland returned 2 million. By their second month, Slovakia had reached 8 million containers, a figure Ireland surpassed with over 10 million containers by March 18, highlighting the scheme’s early success.

Ciaran Foley, CEO of Re-turn, commented on consumer support and the levels of returns over the last few weeks:“The support of consumers nationwide is really positive and as more Re-turn logo products enter circulation, we are seeing high return numbers that will only continue to grow as we all become more accustomed to the Scheme.”

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.

To date, approximately 60% of plastic bottles and cans are being collected for recycling through recycling bins. The 40% not collected results in 800 million containers that are not recycled each year and are contributing to litter. By placing a value on the drinks containers, Re-turn is incentivising consumers to return their bottles and cans in order to get their deposit back and discourage littering and improve recycling quality.

The Deposit Return Scheme is a separate collection scheme. The separate collection of drinks containers eliminates cross contamination resulting in a higher quality of recyclate collected. By returning in-scope drinks containers to one place, deposit return points, the scheme can increase the recyclate quality to 98% from the current 80%.

Having a sufficient quantity and quality of the same product collected in one place will increase the economic viability to build a recycling centre on the island of Ireland. As it stands, we do not collect the volume needed and our recyclate is moved overseas or incinerated. As the scheme continues to grow, this recycling centre would be instrumental in establishing a circular economy solution for drinks containers in Ireland. This is a key goal of the Deposit Return Scheme.


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