Deposit Return Scheme Surpasses 20 Million Drinks Containers Collected Since Launch

·        Total number of containers returned since launch is 21,018,360 

·        Re-turn recorded its highest daily collection rate on Friday, March 29, with 1.2 Million drinks containers collected 

·        Over 2.2 million drinks containers were collected over the course of the long St Patrick’s weekend (16 – 18 March)   


Deposit Return Scheme Surpasses 20 Million Drinks Containers Collected Since Launch

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) and Easter is shaping up to be another bank holiday weekend with significant collection numbers.   


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. 


Further Consumer Guidance 


Why are we moving from putting plastic bottles and cans in the Recycling bin to Deposit Return? 

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, we are 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, we can increase our 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 fantastic circular economy solution for drinks containers in Ireland. 


This is a key goal of the Deposit Return Scheme.   


This is why our PET bottles and aluminium cans must be returned to stores and supermarkets and not disposed of in our mixed dry recycling bins. 


The Deposit Return Scheme is a circular economy initiative that aims to create a closed-loop recycling system guaranteeing the material is returned and recycled into new drinks containers. 


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. 


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 on-site consumption do not have to charge a deposit for in-scope products. The rationale for this is that the empty containers remain on the 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. 


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 is Ireland launching 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, retailers and producers may have, and they are strongly encouraged to reach out to if they have any further queries.   

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