A third of adults confused about using Ireland’s new Deposit Return Scheme

New research by not-for-profit Every Can Counts has revealed ‘feeling unclear’ on the process and ‘having insufficient storage space’ are preventing consumers from using Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), a nationwide recycling initiative which went live this month.

The survey of 2,000 adults in the Republic of Ireland, conducted in January 2024, found that nearly one third (29 per cent) of respondents aren’t confident about how to use the DRS.

Can returned via a deposit return schemeThe scheme incentivises consumers to recycle their plastic bottles and steel and aluminium cans by offering money back for drinks containers returned to participating shops or supermarkets.

Additionally, 36 per cent of respondents highlighted concerns around not having enough space to store uncrushed drinks containers, 22 per cent stated that the refundable deposit isn't high enough, 17 per cent that there are too many steps to follow, and another 17 per cent that they don’t have the time to return drinks containers.

That said, almost 70 per cent of respondents felt the DRS will encourage them to recycle more and over three quarters (78 per cent) said they are more likely to purchase a drink container they consider to be recyclable.

Chris Latham-Warde, Programme Manager at Every Can Counts, said: “With the new Deposit Return Scheme having only just launched in the Republic of Ireland, it’s not surprising to see people harbouring some uncertainty towards the details of the scheme and how they can get their refundable deposit back.

“While their worries are completely valid, we hope that as they become more familiar with the scheme and its steps, we’ll see more and more people participating in it and recycling their used drink containers.”

‘Environmental concern’ was cited as the key motivating factor for recycling bottles and cans, with three quarters of the people that were questioned agreeing that understanding the environmental benefits of recycling would make them more likely to use the DRS.
It is hoped that the DRS will boost recycling rates and reducing littering. Under the EU's Single-Use Plastics Directive, Ireland must meet recycling targets for plastic beverage bottles of 77 per cent by 2025 and 90 per cent by 2029.

How to use the DRS

Only containers featuring the Re-turn label are eligible for the DRS and must be returned empty and undamaged. Plastic bottles can be returned with or without the lid. Glass containers and those for dairy products are not covered by the scheme.

Containers ranging from 150ml to 500ml have a 15 cent deposit, while containers between 500ml and 3 litres have a 25 cent deposit.

Re-turn, the not-for-profit company legally responsible for establishing Ireland’s DRS and managing engagement with producers, retailers and operators, has a map of local participating shops on its website. Containers can be returned manually over the counter or via in-store ‘reverse vending machines’.