Retail Solutions

Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme

Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme

 Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme



In a progressive move towards a more sustainable future, Ireland is gearing up to launch its Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) on February 1, 2024. This initiative is a significant step in the nation’s commitment to environmental conservation and waste reduction.

The Deposit Return Scheme operates on a simple yet impactful concept. Consumers will pay a small deposit when purchasing beverages in containers, such as plastic and glass bottles or aluminium cans. Once the container is empty, consumers can return it to designated collection points, where they will receive a refund of the deposit. This innovative approach aims to incentivize recycling, reduce litter, and minimize the environmental impact of single-use packaging.


Why is the deposit return scheme being implemented?


There are two primary reasons for introducing this scheme.

Firstly, it aims to enhance recycling rates. According to EU regulations, Ireland is obligated to recycle 77% of plastic bottles by the end of 2025, with an increase to 90% by 2030. Presently, we are far from meeting these targets, as indicated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The introduction of the new scheme is anticipated to contribute significantly to achieving these recycling goals.

Secondly, an equally crucial objective is to address the widespread issue of litter.  Many of these items find their way into rivers, lakes, and seas, posing a considerable threat to marine life. Parks and recreational areas also suffer from post-events litter, requiring taxpayer money for cleanup efforts. By assigning a tangible value to the containers we use, it is anticipated that people will be less inclined to discard them thoughtlessly.

Similar deposit return schemes are already common in various other European countries. With an annual influx of up to 2 billion aluminum cans and plastic bottles into the Irish market, even a minor shift in behavior resulting from the new scheme is expected to have a substantial positive impact.


What containers can be recycled?


Eligible containers, ranging from plastic bottles to aluminium and steel cans in sizes between 150ml and 3 litres, are easily identified by the Re-turn logo, ensuring seamless recognition for both retailers and consumers.

To qualify for the scheme, containers must be returned empty and undamaged, featuring a legible barcode.

It’s important to note that glass containers and all dairy product containers, such as those for milk and yoghurt drinks, fall outside the scheme’s purview and won’t bear the Re-turn logo.

Milk containers are excluded from the scheme due to their distinct type of plastic. Since milk products are typically consumed at home, they are already recycled through individuals’ green bins and seldom become litter on the streets.




The return process offers two options: manual returns and automatic returns via Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs). For manual returns, retailers can choose to accept eligible Re-turn drink containers over the counter, classified as Manual Collection. Alternatively, RVMs automatically accept qualified returns, issuing a redeemable voucher at the till while simultaneously sending data to Re-turn for processing.




The deposit payout process offers two options for customers. In the case of manual returns, containers brought back over the counter are tallied by the till operator, who then refunds the charges to the customer, or it can also be applied towards the current purchase.

Alternatively, customers receiving a redeemable voucher from the Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) can present it at the till, opting for an immediate refund or applying the voucher value towards their purchase.


Key Benefits of Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme:


  •  Environmental Conservation:
    • Reduced Litter: By offering a financial incentive for returning containers, the DRS encourages responsible disposal and significantly decreases littering.
    • Resource Conservation: Recycling these containers reduces the demand for raw materials, contributing to resource conservation and minimizing environmental degradation.
  • Circular Economy Boost:
    • Closed-Loop Recycling: The DRS promotes a circular economy by ensuring that returned containers are recycled and reused in the manufacturing process, reducing the need for new materials.
  • Community Engagement:
    • Active Participation: Consumers become active participants in the recycling process, fostering a sense of environmental responsibility and community engagement.
    • Education Opportunities: The program provides opportunities for educational initiatives, raising awareness about the importance of recycling and waste reduction.
  • Innovation Incentive: The scheme incentivizes businesses to innovate in sustainable packaging solutions, driving economic progress in the green sector.

As Ireland takes this bold step towards a more sustainable future, the Deposit Return Scheme not only promises environmental benefits but also represents a collective effort to build a greener, healthier nation. With the launch just around the corner, citizens, businesses, and the environment stand to gain from this innovative and impactful program. Let’s raise a glass to a cleaner, greener Ireland!

Visit our YouTube video to discover more about the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).




Retail Solutions is committed to simplifying and streamlining the integration of the Deposit Return Scheme for our retailers. Our focus is on providing straightforward and functional solutions, ensuring that the entire process is as easy as possible for you. From the incorporation of the new DRS product type in the EPOS application to managing returns through both manual processes and Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs), we are here to support you every step of the way. We will guide you through the seamless adoption of the Deposit Return Scheme, making it a hassle-free experience for your business.


Contact us!


Get in touch by calling the number below or using the form on the website.

+353 (93) 23900



About the author:

Juliane Camozzato is a Head of Marketing at Retail Solutions. You can follow her on LinkedIn!

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