Bottle deposit scheme records three million-plus containers returned in single day

Re-Turn hails soaring numbers as sign of growing enthusiasm among public for working of system

More than three million drinks containers were successfully returned to shops across the State under the deposit return scheme last Sunday, with the operator suggesting the record-breaking number is indicative of growing buy-in among consumers for the controversial system.

The number of drinks containers collected since the scheme was rolled out at the beginning of February has now passed 100 million, prompting the chief executive of Re-Turn, Ciaran Foley, to hail “really good support from Irish consumers with continued growth in numbers participating and returning drinks containers each week”.

He said the first months of the scheme were “all about gradual improvement, and that’s exactly what we’re achieving. Return numbers are steadily rising each week with people now returning millions of bottles and cans every day.”

The scheme operates by customers paying a returnable deposit on bottles and cans in shops and supermarkets and reclaiming a credit when they place the bottle or can in a reverse-vending machine.


The machine issues the customer a credit receipt that is accepted by the store which pays out cash or takes the receipts in against shopping bills.

Since the beginning of May, the average daily return rate has climbed to more than 2.37 million plastic bottles and cans, significantly up on the month of operation when just two million drinks containers were returned. Between last Friday and Sunday, four times more drinks containers were returned than over the whole first month.

“This upward trend not only underscores the public’s robust dedication to recycling but also highlights the continued growth and success of the scheme,” Re-Turn said.

While an average of five million qualifying containers are sold daily throughout the year, Re-Turn said that number did not align with the actual sales pattern of drink containers.

“Peak periods, such as Christmas and the summer months, significantly impact sales. Additionally, this method fails to consider the volume of non-deposit stock sold by retailers during the transition period until May 31st.”

In the early weeks of the scheme, there were widespread complaints of poor performance by some machines. However, Re-Turn said the issues had been addressed and “reliability has significantly improved”.

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