Deposit Return Scheme

A Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for Ireland was officially launched in November 2022 and the go-live date for consumers was 1st February 2024.

Consumers now pay an extra charge of either 15c or 25c on every drink container that is covered by the scheme. The deposit will be refunded in full if the consumer returns the empty undamaged container to any retailer that is not exempt from taking returns.

If you are currently in the excellent habit of putting all your plastic bottles and tin cans in the recycling bin – then you will need to change that habit and start collecting some of them. If you don’t you will be throwing money in the the bin.
It is recommended to return bottles with their caps on , because this will ensure that the cap is recycled, too. Also, if the bottle cap is still on, it is easier to preserve the shape of the bottle.

Which Type of Containers Are Deposits Charged on?

The following containers are “in scope” and covered by the scheme :

  • plastic bottles between 150ml and 3 litres containing drinks,
  • aluminium cans between 150ml and 3 litres containing drinks,
  • and steel cans between 150ml and 3 litres that contain drinks

The following are NOT included in the Deposit Return Scheme:

  • All Glass drink containers
  • All dairy product containers. Eg. Milk , yoghurt drinks.

How Much Are The Deposits ?

Under the DRS regulations, retailers are obliged to charge the consumer a deposit for every in-scope drink sold, to take back the empty drink container and to refund the deposit to the consumer when it is returned for recycling.

A deposit of 15c applies to containers from 150ml to 500ml

A deposit of 25c is applied to plastic bottles or cans over 500ml to 3l .

There is no VAT on the deposits .

The price charged for a “slab” of beer containing 24 500ml cans will increase by €3.60 because of this deposit.

All eligible drink containers should display the Re-turn logo, making it easy to identify what is included in the Deposit Return Scheme. Drink containers must be returned empty and undamaged.

return logo

Re-Turn is the trading name of DRSI CLG, a new company established by beverage producers and retailers to fulfil their obligations under the Separate Collection (Deposit Return Scheme) Regulations 2021.

Producers will have to provide new barcodes for the Deposit Return Scheme ‘in scope’ drink containers. These barcodes will need to be unique to the Republic of Ireland .
This is to prevent cross-border fraud as barcodes from outside the state are not registered with the scheme.

How To Get a Refund of The Deposit

Retailers may opt for either manual return or automatic collection, through Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs).

Reverse Vending Machines

When containers are inserted, the machine reads the containers, confirms they are part of the Deposit Return Scheme, and then issues a voucher for the number of containers returned. Consumers may then present this voucher at the till for a full refund or against store purchase.

You have the choice to receive your refund against a store-bought purchase or in cash or put it towards a charitable cause

It is important to note that vouchers issued from an RVM must be redeemed at the same retail outlet.

Manual Returns

Consumers return the drinks container over the counter to the Retailer. The Retailer checks that the drinks container is empty, and undamaged, features the Re-turn logo and that the barcode is clearly visible. The Consumer is then reimbursed the value of the Deposit. (15c for 500ml or less, 25c for more than 500ml)

It is recommended to return bottles with caps on , because this will ensure that the cap is recycled, too. Also, if the bottle cap is still on, it is easier to preserve the shape of the bottle

Retailers and The Deposit Scheme

All Retailers who sell ‘in scope’ drinks containers are legally obliged to register with “Re-turn” by 14 December 2023.

  • Retailers can start selling Re-turn logo stock from 1 February 2024
  • Retailers cannot purchase non-deposit stock from suppliers after 16 March 2024
  • From 1 June 2024, all stock on retailer shelves must only be Re-turn logo stock.

The deposit value should be displayed on Shelf Edge Labels where applicable.
The deposit must be displayed as a separate line item on the receipt to consumers.

Retailers have two options when providing take-back services:

  • Manual collection by storing returned containers in bags or similar, or
  • Automated collection through the use of reverse vending machines (RVMs).

Retailers will be paid €0.022 for each vending machine item and €0.026 for each manually collected item.
Example: – for every 100 bottles collected manually the retailer will get paid €2.60.

Retailer Exemptions

Not all retailers will be obliged to take back containers and pay back deposits. Some retailers can register to be exempt. (It is not automatic).

Which Retailers Can Be Exempt?

  • retail outlets with store space of 250 sq mtrs or under.(excludes storage/office space)
  • businesses that operate primarily as food takeaways.
  • hospitality (hotel/restaurant/bar/catering) establishments

Businesses that predominantly cater for on-site consumption (bars/cafes/restaurants) are not obligated to charge a deposit . 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.